An NHS health centre is in a “serious state of affairs” after the service charges on its property were increased more than tenfold.
NHS Property Services, which manages about 10% of the health service’s property portfolio, is said to have increased the service charge for Shepperton Medical Practice in Middlesex from £755.46 a month to about £8,800. The increase has been backdated to April 2016.
A spokesman for NHS Property services said the figures for the practice were wrong and discussions were taking place to amend them. "We know the figures for Shepperton Medical Practice are not correct and are in contact with them and others to see how we can help their situation,” he said.
In a letter to patients, seen by SM, Dr Simon Bellamy said the increased costs meant the centre would have to pay a bill of £100,000 by the end of March and it faces £200,000 in service charge fees in the next financial year.
NHS Property Services, which owns the building, was also “insisting” the practice sign a 25-year full repairing lease on “a health centre which has had virtually no maintenance for 50 years”, the letter said.
“The combination of these two factors means that the practice is in a very difficult situation.”
In the letter to patients, Bellamy said this was a “national issue which is affecting many practices, although our practice does seem to be particularly badly hit”.
The spokesman for NHS Properties Service said improvements in its data could have lead to cost increases for practices as incomplete and historic data is updated. “We have been getting better information about the space our customers actually occupy and this is one reason why some are seeing costs increase and others reduce.” The recent move from charging reduced to to “market rent” has also improved data.
“Every penny we generate is reinvested back into the NHS,” he added.
NHS England’s General Practice Forward View said it would provide “transitional support” to practices leasing from NHS Property Services that have seen a “significant increase in the cost of facilities management”.
NHS Property Services is a company owned by the Department of Health. It owns and manages around 3,500 properties, mostly for clinical or local healthcare. Its website says it is “reducing costs, creating a more fit for purpose estate and generating vital funds that are being reinvested to support improvements in frontline patient care”.
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