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GP practices threatened with baliffs due to ‘human error’

Exclusive GP practices were incorrectly sent debt repayment letters over supposedly unpaid property fees invoices, which included threats of bailiffs and legal proceedings.

NHS Property Services said it was aware of around 200 such letters that were sent in error to tenants including GP practices during January and February this year.

It pointed to its sub-contractor NHS Shared Business Services (SBS) for the error, stating it was no longer using the company for this function.

NHS SBS told Pulse that ‘fewer than 60’ GP practices were affected, although these could have received up to three letters chasing payments before the error was caught. It said that only the third letter would have contained a warning of impending legal action.

A spokesperson said: ‘Due to human error a follow-up letter was sent to less than 60 people who had been invoiced on behalf of NHS Property Services.

‘NHS Shared Business Services and NHS Property Services have liaised together throughout to rectify the matter and communicate with those who had received the letter in error.’

The BMA, which flagged up the issue, advised practices to ‘ignore’ the letters.

An NHS Property Services spokesperson said the company ‘ceased using SBS for [debt collecting] activity in June 2016’.

They added: ‘We are aware of around 200 letters sent by SBS to our customers due to a computer error during January and February of this year. These letters should not have been sent.

‘We are engaging with SBS to ensure this is not repeated and from June 2017, NHSPS will no longer use SBS to support our administrative functions when these services will move in-house.’

GPC practice finance lead Dr Ian Hume said that NHSPS had ‘apologised’ for the letters being sent out but that the GPC is still discussing other ongoing issues with the NHS landlord.

He said this included the long-running issues with hiked service charges, which has seen practices faced with five-figure increases.

This came after NHS Property Services changed changed the way it calculates rents to use a new ‘market value’ approach.

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