NHS owed millions in unpaid rent

The NHS is owed hundreds of millions in unpaid rent, leading to NHS Property Services having to write off huge amounts of money

The NHS is owed around £600m in unpaid rent on buildings it owns.

An investigation has discovered that around 70% of its tenants have failed to even sign a lease.

NHS Property Services manages all NHS buildings that are rented out or sold, but it has been discovered that it makes back only 58p on every £1 it bills.

As a result, £110m in debt dating back as far as 2014 has had to be written off by the organisation due to its failure to reclaim it.

NHS Property Services hasn’t broken even since its creation. In fact, it has seen a loss of over £1bn since 2011.

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, responded to the news, saying: “Problems with practice premises and the financial pressures that go alongside owning or leasing surgery buildings are constant frustrations for hardworking GPs, and have an important negative impact on GP recruitment and retention.

“Specifically, in recent years, GPs leasing buildings from NHS Property Services have seen their service and maintenance fees rise astronomically with no agreement and no proper explanation.

“It is only right, then, that GPs do not pay these fees that could risk the very future of their practices and the ability to provide care for patients.

“Indeed, this timely report, which helpfully highlights that there is no legal right or power to collect these payments, comes as we announce that we have written to NHPS asking it to urgently address the service fee issue or we will consider legal action.

“It is simply not the case, however – as this report claims – that GPs see paying for premises as ‘optional’. Practices want to pay a fair and appropriate rent but this needs to be reimbursed by CCGs4.

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“A lack of funding in recent years means commissioners cannot keep up with sky-rocketing commercial rents demanded by NHS Property Services, and they’ve simply passed the problem and the cost to family doctors.

“This is unacceptable at a time when practices are already under huge financial strain.

“Good quality, up-to-date premises are key to providing good quality patient care, and the government must provide sufficient investment to ensure practice buildings are fit for purpose.”

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