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Five figure service fees financially ‘crucifying’ practices

Practices have been ‘financially crucified’ by a huge increase in service fees, with some seeing fees increase by £50,000-£60,000 per year, local leaders have warned.

Charges for services including facilities management, building management and waste disposal have increased dramatically since April, Northumberland LMC chair Dr Jane Lothian told Pulse.

Practices all over the country have been hit by a creeping increase in professional and service fees over the past three years.

A large number of practices transferred over from informal, historic agreements with service providers to the new Department of Health operated NHS Property Services management company in April 2013.

LMC leaders warned at the time that the transfer could include ‘rocketing’ service charges in the future.

Dr Lothian said: ‘I’ve got some small practices which have been hit with five figure sum increases with service charges going up by £50,000-£60,000 for premises.

’People who have been in health centres where you could argue they have been charged the going rate, have had a 500% increase overnight from £10,000 to £55,000. These sums are crucifying practices.’

GPC property lead Dr Brian Balmer said that GPs faced with huge service bills should not pay them until they were clear what they were for.

He said: ’Some GPs are getting enormous bills. We say don’t pay it if you are not sure what it is for. Ask for an exact clarification of all the charges and copy in the CCG. Also get in touch with your LMC.

Balmer said that the GPC was aware of a number of instances where GPs had felt that they had been pressurised unduly to pay these bills and that the GPC believed that the situation would take ‘close to a year’ to sort out.

An NHS Property Services spokesperson said: “Service charges are a necessary cost of running a building and have always been paid by the NHS.

’These charges are not new. What has changed is subsidy arrangements with NHS England and the fact that the costs are now transparent on the bills.

’Some costs have actually gone down. Where there are increases we are proactively meeting with GPs to explain the bills and we are working closely with NHS England in planning how best to support practices, including new transitional funding announced recently.’