Practices have already received five-figure uplifts after challenging the level of rent they receive from their PCT, according to a firm of surveyors that specialises in GP premises funding.
GP Surveyors, which has worked with around 2,000 practices, believes between 70-80% of practices could challenge their notional rent and receive an uplift. The average uplift achieved is around 15%, but can be up to 80%, the firm claims.
The system for resolving notional rent disputes has recently been reformed to prevent the NHS Litigation Authority being inundated with unresolved disputes. The changes aim to stop primary care organisations blocking challenges by practices.
James Williams, senior surveyor at GP Surveyors, said the new process for dealing with notional rent disputes had been issued as a direct result of the company challenging PCOs.
‘In a lot of cases PCOs are open to resolving the dispute locally. But in some cases PCOs have misunderstood notional rent and have tried to charge practices to resolve the dispute.'
The new process would avoid many cases going as far as the NHS Litigation Authority, said Mr Williams.
He cited a series of reasons why practices' notional rent may be set too low. District valuers often use historic or incorrect figures for practices' floor space or can miss other features that boost the value of the premises, he said.
They may also fail to take account of existing deals with other practices, he added.
Andrew Lewis, a partner at Bute Surveyors, agreed that ‘a substantial proportion' of practices will have their rents uplifted when challenged.
‘It's right that notional rents are challenged,' he said. The district valuers are not wrong, but there is an incorrect assumption that they are independent - they are not. They are paid for by the PCT.'
GPC negotiator and premises expert Dr Peter Holden agreed that a proportion of practices were likely to be underfunded on notional rent.
He said when practices have their rent revaluation every three years it was ‘always worth spending a bit of money on getting your own opinion from a specialist'.
However John Hearle, GP's premises expert and chairman of surveyors Aitchison Raffety, thought estimates that three quarters of practices were underpaid on notional rent sounded ‘incredibly high.'