The General Medical Services Premises Cost Directions 2013 for England state that practices will need to negotiate a rent with their landlord before a rent reimbursement application is made.
This means that every time practices in rented premises have a rent review, which is every three years, they will have to hire a specialist valuer themselves. Under the old system they were hired by the PCT.
The rent reimbursement application must be made to one of NHS England’s 27 area teams.
John Hearle, joint chairman of the Primary Care Premises Forum, said practices should expect to pay £2,500 for the specialist valuer’s fees. ‘Under the old system leases often had a proviso that when you have agreed the rent and before any final commitment, you sent it to the PCT and they determined the level of reimbursement which, after any relevant negotiation, became the lease rent,' he said.
‘It means that instead of landlords talking to the district valuer, practices will have to engage and pay for their own valuer. It is ludicrous.'
He added: ‘It is going to mean that rent reviews will take even longer and will be much more expensive for practices, and removes the safety net of ensuring the level of lease rent and rent reimbursement are equal.
‘The DH’s argument is, "Why should we be employing a valuer to have to agree rent for practices". But they will still have to employ them to agree the level of rent reimbursement. They haven’t saved anything.'
He said the DH conducted the review internally and did not take up the Primary Care Premises Forum's offer of free advice on the matter.
‘They have been rushed through in the last few days of the administrative changes. They are harsh and stupid changes and many other anomalies within the directions have not been cancelled or updated and they should have been.'
The GPC has said that these are ‘interim’ directions because new regulations had to be in place before the reforms in England took hold on 1 April so that 'money could continue to flow'.
GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden said: ‘There are still items that need be followed up over the next few weeks. These didn’t get sorted out due to simple capacity at NHS England, because their legal team was tied up. We have a commitment that we will get things sorted out in the next few weeks. We will be issuing guidance on this [the new regulations].
‘It has always been possible to change things [in the cost directions]. They are deeply complex regulations. Trade waste is not yet sorted and that is something we will be negotiating on.’
A DH spokeswoman said: 'GPs should already be negotiating with their landlord when a rent review is triggered. The vast majority of specialist valuations cost significantly less than £2,500. It is important that GPs negotiate with landlords to ensure they get good value for money for them and the taxpayer.'