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GP partners will have to foot half of overdue premises bill, says minister


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GPs will have to stump up over £60m in outstanding premises fees from their own pockets, the Department of Health has revealed.

As Pulse broke the news today that NHS Property Services claims GP practices owe £91.5m in outstanding fees, health minister Philip Dunne said an additional £31.6m was owed by GP practice tenants of Community Health Partnership (CHP) – adding up to a total of £123m.

And Mr Dunne added that only around half of this money, £61.6m, is reimbursable to practices by NHS England.

Last week, NHS England and NHS Property Services both told Pulse they were unable to determine how much of the bill would be reimbursable and how much GPs would have to fund themselves.

But responding to a parliamentary written question on the subject, Mr Dunne said: ‘These are the total costs charged to GP tenants that are outstanding for the years since the two companies took on their head-tenant role upon the abolition of primary care trusts in 2013.

‘Approximately half of this outstanding debt for both companies relates to reimbursable costs (rent, business rates, water rates and clinical waste collection).’

It comes as premises costs have been increasing as part of an NHS England drive to ensure practices are charged the market value for their properties, where previously many were on outdated and informal contracts inherited from PCTs.

But Pulse has documented practices being hit by £60,000 increases to the non-refundable ‘service charge’ element of the bill covering maintenance and services in communal areas.

The GPC has advised practices not to agree to increased charges or new leases without legal advice and has not ruled out its own legal action to find a solution which ‘doesn’t expose practices to unreasonable and uncapped charges’.

When Pulse first revealed the size of the overdue bill, GP leaders welcomed practice’s ‘resolve’ in resisting pressure from NHS PS and NHS England.

They called for all parties to re-enter negotiations to find a solution that does not risk destabilising practices.

Commenting on the new information, BMA GP Committee premises lead Dr Ian Hume said: ‘If we have the clarity from the DH that half of that shortfall in [non-reimbursable] service charges, that is helpful as it shows the size of the problem. Practices are not going to be able to sustain such a hike.’

Year Total costs charged to GP tenants of Community Health Partnerships outstanding £million Total costs charged to GP tenants of NHS Property Services that are outstanding £million

2016/17

14.6

55.1

2015/16

13.4

27.8

2014/15

1.3

8.6

2013/14

2.3

 

Totals

31.6

91.5

Source: House of Commons

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