Exclusive A GP practice in the south of England has had to pay back tens of thousands of pounds in rent reimbursement funding after an area team began audit turned up significant discrepancies.
Wessex LMCs have alerted practices to the risk after several cases were raised, including one practice being told to pay back £70,000 in overpaid reimbursments – reduced to £41,000 following the LMC’s intervention.
Local GP leaders said that practice should not claim back incorrect amounts, but added that the hardline stance of area teams and the loss of regular rent reviews which used to occur under the former PCTs has made it harder for practices to keep track of their payments.
It comes at a time when practices have been suffering delayed and missing rent reimbursement payments from area teams since NHS England took responsibility in 2013, even leading to some GPs contemplating issuing breach of contract notices to NHS England after GP rent reimbursements worth a quarter of a million pounds went missing.
Wessex LMC has been contacting GP practices as a result of practices overcharging for rent reimbursement.
Its director of primary care Carole Cusack told Pulse that the practice that was told they owed £70,000 had renegotiated their cost rent around 2006.
However, Ms Cusack said: ‘It’s definitely not trivial… You can’t really condone [the practice’s mistake] but there could have been a kinder approach from the area team.’
‘And that’s why we’ve been trying to alert practices. Because it can hit practices pretty hard, and we don’t know at the moment how many practices have been affected.’
‘In the old PCT days, every practice was offered a three yearly rent review, no matter what type of reimbursement they were on. This area team will only allow notionally rented practices to have a review.’
Wessex LMC chief executive Nigel Watson told Pulse the issue should be highlighted more widely saying: ‘There have been a couple of practices where it’s happened, and yes it’s an issue. Because if they’ve negotiated lower rent or mortgage payments and they haven’t told the area team, they may be liable for the difference. It would accumulate, particularly if it happened four or five years ago.’