NHS Property Services
Health Scrutiny requests the CCG and NHS Property Services to sort out the Colyton Health Centre charges dispute with the GP Practice
My item at the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee yesterday led to the committee requesting the Devon Clinical Commissioning Group as well as NHS Property Services (the landlords) to get together with the Seaton and Colyton Medical Practice to sort out the excessive service charges demanded by NHSPS.
Colyton Health Centre maintenance charges problem is widespread since NHS Property Services took over, according to GP Online
Seaton and Colyton Medical Practice are not alone in experiencing savagely increased maintenance charges at Colyton Health Centre (pictured).
GP Online reported in January: ‘GP leaders have been warning since 2016 that huge extra costs imposed through service charge hikes could force practices to close if they were not reversed.
‘GPC premises lead Dr Krishna Kasaraneni told GPonline: “In recent years, GPs leasing their surgery buildings from NHSPS have been hit by rocketing service charges and maintenance fees, forcing many practices into financial difficulties, and ultimately leading some to consider their viability and whether they can continue to offer the same care to patients in future.
The article also reveals that bosses earned five-figure bonuses … on top of five-figure salaries! Dr Kasaraneni added: ‘”At a time when the NHS is under so much financial pressure and NHSPS publicly blames these same practices for its £40.9m deficit, it adds insult to injury to learn it has paid its top executives such sky-high bonuses.”‘
I’m making a new proposal to safeguard community stakes in community hospitals, tomorrow at Health Scrutiny
Community hospitals in Devon have always been built and maintained with a high degree of community involvement and support. In many cases, local communities took the initiative to build the hospitals and raised substantial part of the original funding, or even the entire funding of additional wings and facilities, as well as contributing to staff and other running costs, the introduction of new specialist services, etc.
Unlike Private Finance Initiatives undertaken in partnership with private companies, these ‘community finance initiatives’ – which sought no profit from their investments other than the improvement of the facilities and services they enabled – appear not to have secured their interests in the hospitals they helped to build. The Leagues of Friends and others who raised funds for hospitals trusted that their investments would continue to be used for the benefit of place-based health services in their local area.
Since the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, however, the organisation of the NHS has changed and the ownership of NHS buildings is in the process of being transferred to a new company, NHS Property Services, wholly owned by the Secretary of State and charged with managing the NHS estate in line with national priorities. NHS Property Services is enabled to sell off parts of the estate and to charge NHS organisations market rents for their use of NHS buildings.
This change creates dilemmas for local communities which have invested in Devon community hospitals. Clearly Leagues of Friends and other local bodies, including town and parish councils as representatives of communities which have raised large amounts of funding, can be considered ‘stakeholders’ in community hospitals. However these community stakeholders appear not to possess formal rights in the ownership and governance of the hospitals.
The proposal is that the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny undertake an investigation into
1. The changing ownership and governance of community hospitals in Devon and its implications.
2. The historic and ongoing contributions of local communities and Leagues of Friends to funding the hospitals.
The purpose of this investigation would be to address the question of
3. How community stakeholders’ interests should be secured in the future governance of community hospitals.
It is envisaged that in the course of this investigation, the Committee would both collect evidence and invite expressions of views from all stakeholders, including both local community organisations and NHS bodies, including NHS Property Services.
Local community hospitals, including Seaton, will have to pay £3.1m a year in rent to NHS Property Services, in new fallout from the Conservatives’ disastrous reorganisation of the NHS. Seaton’s share of these supposed ‘market rents’ is not yet clear.
Thanks to Independent County Councillor Claire Wright for once again exposing this dangerous situation, which will surely threaten the closure of some hospitals in due course.