NHS Property Services
We are often asked advice by practices occupying premises owned by and rented from NHS Property Services. Many practices do not have a lease and frustrations can arise when they are asked for excessive or inaccurate services charges, or when they feel pressured into signing up to a lease.
We would direct practices to the BMA's excellent resources on NHS Property Services issues. They have recently issued some further clarification and guidance, which we re-produce here with their permission:
"NHS Property Services (NHSPS) are looking to move anyone not on a lease onto the standard lease, as negotiated between NHSPS and GPC (our guidance on the standard lease is here: https://www.bma.org.uk/advice/employment/gp-practices/premises/gp-premises-leases).
"We also have guidance on premises charges here: https://www.bma.org.uk/advice/employment/gp-practices/premises/service-charges-for-gp-premises. This provides a number of answers to common questions, but ultimately our general guidance is that "no tenant is obliged to pay a service charge except so far as the terms of the lease provide that a service charge is payable. The fact that the tenant has the benefit of a service does not, of itself, mean that the tenant is obliged to pay for that service. Equally the fact that a landlord does not receive payment for a service does not mean, in itself, that the landlord is entitled to refrain from providing the service."
"If practices have been paying service charges without a lease in place, we advise that they continue to pay at the level they have been paying until a new lease is in place. We see no legal mechanism under which a practice can have increased charges imposed on them without a mechanism to allow for this (ie a lease).
"It is important to remember that a lease is negotiable so if NHSPS approaches practices they should seek advice to ensure the lease is appropriate for their needs. Similarly the charges are negotiable to a large extent.
"Some practices have suggested that the increase in rent and in charges would put the practice at financial risk. In these instances we advise the practice to approach NHSPS and their commissioner to put their case forward for either reduced charges, or for additional support.
"With regard a 'subsidy' line on the charges sheet, this is in recognition of the approach being taken by NHSPS and CHP, which reflects the true cost of providing Facilities Management (FM) services. Some practices are now experiencing an increase in FM costs and so in order to smooth this transition to true costs, NHS England is providing transitional funding to offset FM charges. This funding is available for a fixed 2 year period, after which time we expect significant efficiencies in FM costs to have arisen."
The NHSPS Centre can be contacted on: