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Reimbursement appeals

I read with interest Justin Cumberlege's article (GP, 1 May) on the successful judgment against the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) about a district valuer (DV) determining an appeal on the level of rent reimbursement for GP premises. Will the NHSLA now send all appeals to an independent valuer and will this help GPs?

The case won by Primary Health Investment Properties (PHIP) is looked on as positive because in future the NHSLA must ensure that justice is 'seen to be done'.

This may mean that the NHSLA appoints independent valuers (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors members, for instance) when dealing with appeals. However the NHSLA is probably still considering its options.

With uncertainty over how the appeal procedure should now work, GPs' appeals will inevitably be delayed while procedures are reconsidered. There is also the issue of extra cost if appeals go to independent experts.

In 2004, when the Premises Costs Directions were introduced, some PCTs realised they did not lay down an appeal route.

These PCTs have sought to alter the old Red Book system which allowed representations to be made by a practice or their surveyor to a DV and then, if that failed, for the matter to be passed to the health secretary (in the form of the NHSLA).

Some PCTs have even been looking at undertaking certain stages of appeals themselves - including deciding if GPs can challenge the DV's figure.

I understand the NHSLA is now seeking to advise these PCTs that their actions clearly curtail the rights of GPs. This should result in them rethinking their policies. In the long term, this could be positive.

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