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Premises funding

Q: We are planning to expand our cramped surgery into the PCT-owned clinic next door. We are at a stage where both we and the PCT are going to sell our premises to a third-party developer that will refurbish the much larger premises for our use. The district valuer seems happy to accept the threefold-plus increase in market rent value. However, our solicitor advises caution, saying there are vague suggestions that cost and notional rent may be abolished and GPs could be given a 'flat amount' according to list size. We would be badly out of pocket if this happened. Are these rumours true?

A: I have not heard them and they may have been incorrectly assumed from comments in the White Paper. This does note that on the abolition of PCTs by 2013, the new NHS Commissioning Board will allocate and account for NHS resources. This body will provide funding to the GP commissioning consortia.

The stated intention is that the DoH will allocate funding through the NHS Commissioning Board to the consortia according to population health needs. This implies patient numbers will be taken into account. However, there is nothing to suggest such a means of budgeting will be passed on by the consortia to individual GP practices.

The system of cost rent (now borrowing costs) and notional rent reimbursement is sanctioned by the NHS (GMS - Premises Costs) Directions 2004 and I think it is highly likely the consortia will continue to adopt these directions.

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