The GPC has advised LMCs that practices are entitled to charge interest on any late payments from NHS England area teams and sue through the small claims courts for non payment.
GPC contracts lead and Birmingham LMC secretary Dr Robert Morley said the new advice was an attempt to ensure practice understand they have the same rights as any other small business in these circumstances. Practices that have opted to become NHS bodies, however, are exempt from the advice.
The move follows months of delayed, missed and unidentified payments to practices in the wake of the NHS reorganisation in April 2013.
Dr Morley, whose own LMC has been advising practices to take such action for some time, said GPs are under contract with area teams to provide services and if they are not paid properly they have the right to legal recourse.
Practice can charge interest at the rate of 8% above base rate, plus a fixed sum and reasonable costs of recovering the debt, and can sue through the small claims courts for non payment, he said.
‘They are being expected by the NHS to work in a competitive, commercial environment, so they have got to behave the same way in order to ensure the viability of their business,' said Dr Morley, although he was not aware of any having taken such action yet.
‘We have told them repeatedly that it is simple to do, stand up and be robust. Part of the problem is that the situation is so complicated many practices struggle to work out what they have been paid, whether they have been paid late or been paid properly.'
He added: ‘I sympathise with practices that it is very difficult for them, but it is really about time they stand up and be counted over this and be more robust when they are not paid properly.’