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GPs pressured into signing leases can't be evicted

A piece in GP caught my eye, confirming that GPs in health centres which were being pressurised into signing leases on the transfer to PropCo could not be evicted.

Of course they won’t. But what this shows is the typical management nonsense that dogs general practice. For years - actually decades at least, GPs in health centres have effectively had a license to occupy and pay service charges on a negotiated basis without the formality of a lease.

In the last year or so, all these properties get transferred to PropCo which has been insistent that formal leases are put in place. Now while leases give the GPs security of tenure, they have three critical factors.

Firstly they impose a binding obligation on the names of individual GPs to pay the rent for the term of the lease (regardless of the individuals being in practice or the practice having a contract).

Secondly, the issue of the lease will create a stamp duty charge for the GPs which could be several tens of thousands of pounds, reimbursed only with discretion.

And thirdly, the lease will require the GPs to maintain the building in the condition at the date of the lease, and if they fail to do so, they will be hit with a dilapidations charge at the end of the lease. None of these three factors exist with a license.

These three factors have meant that many GPs have refused to bow to the pressure to sign the leases offered and have engaged solicitors to negotiate on their behalf. At a cost of course, and in many cases the negotiations have slowed down to the predictable crawl.

So some practices have signed leases that will involve extra costs in setting up, legal fees, stamp duty, future dilapidation costs, some practice are mid negotiations having engaged their solicitors, and NHS management is spending time and resources in an activity that now is not necessary.

Will those practices who have incurred unnecessary costs get these refunded? They should do. Is anyone accountable for the waste? Of course not.

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