A long-running dispute over the cost of practices based in government-owned buildings has taken a new turn – placing many practices in legal jeopardy, it has been revealed.
Five practices, at the cutting edge the dispute, are set to be sued over alleged non-payment of rent and service charges totalling more than a million pounds, the Health Service Journal reported. The claim has been brought by NHS Property Services which is, in turn, has faced action from the British Medical Association, which says it is demanding “unlawful” fees. The dispute has arisen after the agency has sought to standardise fees and charges after taking over more than 3,600 NHS buildings in 2012.
The BMA, which is acting for five practices, suffered a legal setback in the High Court in December. There is due to be a full trial of both claims in March next year, the journal reported. It said that one medical practice in Gloucestershire could face a service charge increase from £14,000 to £242,000.
NHS Property Services said it hoped to settle the dispute without a further court hearing. It said the organisation is “seeking to recuperate the debts owed by the claimants, which are still unpaid. The claims brought do not themselves deal with the overall issue of liability for the charges, and so … has counterclaimed to clarify this issue.”
Dr Gaurav Gupta, who leads on premises for the BMA’s GP committee, said he was “appalled” at the decision to sue the practices “in the midst of a pandemic when surgeries are stretched to their limits.”