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Problems ahead for Practices in PCT premises
With the imminent demise of PCTs, practices currently occupying PCT owned premises should be asking themselves who will be their landlord in 2013 and what are the implications of this change?
One thing is certain. The PCTs have been told to offload as much of their property estate as possible, and to do it quickly. This would be difficult for even the most well managed property portfolio, but unfortunately much of the PCT-owned estate is poorly documented, with multiple occupiers, and in less than pristine condition.
Due to the complexity of the portfolio buildings will have to be dealt with on a case by case basis, but the general direction of travel is becoming clear:
- PCT estate used principally for ‘service critical clinical infrastructure’ are to be offered to Aspirant Community Foundation Trusts (CFTs), other NHS Trusts, or Foundation Trusts (FTs). This generally means premises where community services commissioned from these NHS Bodies occupy more than 50% of the building. If a GP surgery is acting from such a property, the GPs can expect their property to be transferred to a trust.
- The majority of the rest of the PCT estate is expected to transfer to NHS Property Services Ltd, a new company set up to manage the residual estate. This is expected to include PCT administrative buildings, the operational community care properties not transferred to trusts, and ‘Operational primary care property’ which would include GP surgeries, dentists and so on.
The new landlord for GPs in PCT premises will therefore either be either a commercially minded trust, or a new national property management organisation whose explicit objectives are to ‘cut the costs of administering the estate’ and to ‘deliver value for money property services’. Both outcomes may well prove uncomfortable for GPs.
Our advice to practices who are currently in PCT owned premises is:
- Check that you are occupying the building in accordance with your lease or licence
- If your occupation of the building is not documented, you should consider requesting a formal lease before the PCT disappears
- If you are not currently paying rent and/or service charges, you should consider setting up a contingency fund to cover any increases imposed by your new landlord as there is no guarantee that these will be reimbursed – particularly where your occupation is undocumented.
- Seek legal advice before signing any documents presented to you.