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GPC calls for media inquiry into ‘rent profiteering’ claims

The GPC lead negotiator on premises has hit out at media accusations that GPs are pocketing millions of pounds through the Notional Rent Scheme.

Dr Holden's comments came in reaction to a story published in the Daily Telegraph this week, claiming GPs are inflating rent prices through the Notional Rent Scheme and enjoying huge windfalls when the property is sold to another practice or a developer.

Dr Peter Holden, a GP in Matlock, Derbyshire, accused the government of conjuring up a mischief story to ‘soften-up' the taxpayers before the GPs pension row, and threatened to lodge a complaint with the media regulator the Press Complaints Commission if found to be a deliberate misrepresentation.

Dr Holden said: ‘GPs have invested up to £4 billion in buying and maintaining practices. We take significant risks buying a surgery and undertake the maintenance and up-keep of buildings that are on average 40-years-old.'

The paper claims that last year the government paid out £630m in rent through the Notional Rent Scheme, up by 70% in the last six years. An estimated 86% of surgeries are owned by doctors or private companies and the Department of Health, who pays the rent, has spent £2.5 billion in the past five years.

Dr Russell Walshaw, chief executive of east Yorkshire and Linconshire LMC said the accusation were ‘unbelievable and not true'.

‘These rents are not inflated. They are based on markets rates that are set by the district valuer. If that GP has owned the practice building for 30 years of course they are likely to make a profit on it if it is sold now.'

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘This system incentivises GPs to expand and improve services so that people have proper access to modern facilities.'