NHS officials U-turn over 'crass' premises funding cuts

Commissioners have U-turned on 'crass and inappropriate' plans that threatened to cut rent reimbursements worth thousands of pounds from GP practices, an LMC has said.

Birmingham LMC Dr Bob Morley (Photo: UNP)
Birmingham LMC Dr Bob Morley (Photo: UNP)

Practices in Birmingham had been told by local NHS England officials that notional rent and reimbursements would be cut on rooms provided free of charge for primary care services such as district nurses and midwives.

Practices faced losses of up to several thousand pounds from the decision, which LMC leaders said was in breach of the premises cost directions.

Birmingham LMC said it was ‘delighted’ that NHS England had reviewed the plans after concerns were raised by CCGs and the LMC.

Premises costs

In a letter to practices NHS England West Midlands senior contract manager Kerry Biggs confirmed there would not now be any abatement of practice funding where parts of their premises are used by a set list of clinical services that are supporting provision of GMS services.

This exception will apply provided the service is a CCG-commissioned NHS service and the provider does not already have a tariff included in its contract for infrastructure.

Services on the list include midwives, health visitors, district nurses, phlebotomy, speech and language, audiology, community/secondary care physiotherapy, drug and alcohol services, mental health services and CCG pharmacy technicians.

The LMC said it was ‘delighted’ that ‘following LMC and CCG pressure on this issue NHS England has had to do a U–turn and revised its policy’. LMC secretary Dr Robert Morley said had the plans not been ‘nipped in the bud’ many more practices would have been affected.

NHS integration

‘A lot of practices have historically had community midwives and community nurses and other staff use their rooms free of charge in order to try and preserve the ethos of extended primary healthcare,' said Dr Morley. ‘It’s ironic that in the context of STPs and moving towards integrated care once again, NHS England made this crass decision on rent reimbursement.’

‘Not only was it a completely crass decision it was in breach of the [premises] directions as well. It speak volumes about the culture in NHS England, in that on the one hand they are trumpeting their support for general practice with the GP Forward View and on the other hand they are doing their best to undermine general practice and remove funding through illegitimate means.’

The letter from Ms Biggs said: 'After a number of approaches and concerns raised by both CCGs and LMCs, NHS England (West Midlands) has reviewed the process applied to the abatement of rent for GP practices.

'We understand that there are a small number of practices already affected by the implementation of abatement to the rent reimbursement. The premises team will be reviewing these practices and arranging visits where necessary to ensure that room usages and rent reimbursements are correct. Where applicable a repayment for the removal of appropriate abatements will be made to the practice.'

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