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BMA agrees new lease template with NHS Property Services

Template will allow practices to enter a ‘fair and modern relationship with the landlord’

Thursday, 26 May 2016

The BMA has negotiated a new template lease agreement with NHS Property Services (NHSPS) that it said should allow practices in England to confidently enter fair and modern individual agreements with landlords. It welcomed the new template, which it said would bring a raft of benefits to practices based in NHSPS premises.

The BMA has previously found that 60% of NHSPS-occupied practices in England have leases that are not fit for purpose; and 40% of these practices are on unwritten leases. Furthermore, many GP practice leases don’t recognise the link between the core NHS contract, reimbursement and the lease itself.

The BMA’s GP Committee, NHS England and NHSPS have all contributed to the development of a new practice template lease that addresses these shortcomings, among others. They aimed to encourage GP practices working within NHSPS premises to enter informed discussions with local managers to agree the terms of their lease.

The BMA said: “The template contains provisions that we believe are fair but more importantly necessary for the protection and indeed development of GP practices. These provisions, allied to short-term commitments offered by NHS England, should allow a more rapid transformation through local agreements.”

NHS England has agreed that it will pay for relevant costs (such as stamp duty, and “reasonable legal costs” of up to £1,000 + VAT) that practices incur during the sign-up process, from now until November next year. Other benefits of the new lease agreement include:

  • a clause allowing practices who lose their core contract to break their lease
  • a requirement entitling practices that see their rents revised, to equivalent reimbursement
  • the removal of a previous clause that allowed NHSPS to relocate a practice
  • increased transparency for service charges in newly revised guidance
  • agreed dispute resolution procedures for all GP practices signing up to the new template

The BMA said all GP practices must seek their own legal and professional advice to ensure that the terms are right for them and, crucially, that the template is adapted to suit their specific requirements and needs. And as some commitments within the lease are only agreed until the end of the “grace period” on 30th November 2017, the BMA also urged practices to act quickly in order to secure the benefit of these commitments.

Dr Brian Balmer, BMA GP Executive member, said: “This is the first agreed template lease between NHS Property Services and the BMA. It has been produced after considerable negotiation and we believe it allows practices to sign up to individual leases with the confidence that they are entering into a fair and modern relationship with the landlord.

“There will of course always be local issues which need to be resolved and this agreement is not a magic bullet to every problem that arises with GP premises. The government still, for example, needs to deliver on their planned investment in GP infrastructure. However, this new agreement is a significant step forward and presents an opportunity that I would urge GP practices to seriously consider, especially as some of the benefits of this agreement are only available for a specific period of time.”

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