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What does the new Template GP Lease mean for GP practices?

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A Template GP Lease has been developed between the British Medical Association (BMA) and NHS Property Services for GP practices which lease, either the whole or in part, a building used for the provision of medical health services.

Here, Harrison Drury’s healthcare sector team, headed up by David Edwards, takes a closer look at what this means for GP practices and the possible benefits.

To seek to encourage GP practices to formally document their occupation of premises, NHS England has committed to offer certain additional benefits, providing GP practices enter into a lease by 30 November 2017 (the “Grace Period”).

These benefits are as follows:

  1. The reimbursement of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) upon proof of payment for the initial term (up to 15 years).
  2. Legal fees incurred in respect of the lease work will be reimbursed on proof of payment – up to a maximum of £1,000.00 plus VAT. This is irrespective of which legal advisors are instructed, meaning that GP practices can in most cases, continue to use their preferred solicitors.
  3. NHS England will subsidise the Management Fee in respect of Service Charges for 2017/2018 (as was done for 2016/2017).

What’s the process and how does my practice go about claiming such benefits?

  1. In the first instance, the GP practice in question should seek to agree heads of lease, in principle, with Community Health Partnerships and NHS Property Services Ltd. This may result in numerous meetings and forms of correspondence so keep in mind the “Grace Period” – expiring on the 30th November 2017.
  1. In undertaking stage 1 above, the GP practices will inevitably incur costs, and as such, should seek to apply for reimbursements by submitting the required Lease Incentives Claim Form, located here;

https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/lease-incentive-claim-form/

Once the Form is completed, it must be sent to; england.gppremisesfund@nhs.net by the 30th November 2017. Be sure to keep copies of all invoices in respect of legal fees etc.

  1. The claim form will then be sent to the GP practice’s commissioner for review and subject to approval, the NHS England Central Finance Team will release the required revenue to the local commissioner, permitting the GP practice to be reimbursed.

A few practical points to consider before making an application

  • Any GP practice considering utilising the Template GP Lease should seek its own legal and professional advice in the first instance; it is paramount that the terms of such an agreement are right for all parties concerned.
  • Before entering into such a lease, be sure to have the proposed starting rent formally (in writing) approved by NHS England – in addition to any shared areas rent which may be applicable – costs are an element which you need to be clear about from the outset.
  • Ensure you have a clear understanding of the state of repair and condition of the property to which the lease relates, and all other building aspects. This may result in you needing to engage a surveyor, but in any event, carrying out the required checks at the offset could significantly save on costs and liabilities further down the line.

What’s the rationale behind this incentive?

As we all know, costs and revenues are heavily discussed topics within the NHS at present.

It is hoped that the existence of such leases will seek to establish more stable and commercial working environments for both GP practices and NHS Property Services, which, NHS England believes will further contribute and promote the continuance of good patient care – one of the NHS’s fundamental objectives.

How successful this will be is yet to be determined, but to date, the proposal seems to have been welcomed by a number of GP practices, and with a proportion of legal costs set to be covered from the outset, it seems that the public sector isn’t the only sector which may be benefiting from this.

Harrison Drury is on hand to offer support, if you’d like to discuss this further with a member of our Healthcare Sector Team, please contact David Edwards on 01772 208 507.

 


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