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GPs allowed to keep the profits from surgery sales

  • 9 Comments

Doctors are using a taxpayer-funded programme to pocket “millions of pounds” in windfalls from their surgeries, an investigation has found.

The “notional rent” scheme allows GPs to buy buildings for their surgeries which they then “rent” back to the Department of Health for more than the mortgage repayments, according to the report.

Surgeries are then sold off when the GP retires and they are allowed to keep the profits from the sale of the building.

James Wharton, a Conservative member of the Commons public accounts committee, accused GPs of “fiddling the system” and said he would ask the National Audit Office to open a “full and comprehensive investigation” into surgery funding.

He said: “People are obviously going to be extremely concerned to see that taxpayers’ money is being used in this way.

“For too long these people have profited too easily at the expense of the taxpayer and the government should look at this system and see whether it can be changed to ensure better value for money.”

The investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Daily Telegraph claims that GPs have boasted that they have made six or even seven figure windfalls from the system.

It says the “notional rent” scheme currently costs the government more than £630m each year.

This would be an increase of 70% since 2004, when the NHS paid out £370m.

The investigation also holds that 86% of GP premises are either owned by doctors or by private companies and are paid for through the scheme, costing the Department of Health £2.5bn in the past five years.

A Department of Health spokesman said in a statement: “This system incentivises GPs to expand and improve services so that people have proper access to modern facilities.

“It represents the cost to GPs of renting or owning the premises, and is a cost that would met by government direct if GPs did not.”

 

  • 9 Comments

Readers' comments (9)

  • michael stone

    This sort of thing, is exactly the reason why the lay members on those new commissioning boards, must be entirely 'arms length' from any of the GPs in the consortia !
    It is one thing for GPs to identify the needs of their patients, but they must not be able to personally profit from commissioning decisions !

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  • Exactly Michael, that is why the GP consortia are going to fail before they even start.

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  • Well, Well, Well.
    Yet another well paid professional body of people, exploiting tax payers money for their own benefit.
    That's:- mps; polititions; bankers; and now gps all having a dip into the pot. What with sending money abroad to help the, 'needy charities', where are they going to get the extra monmey to finance it all?
    Oh yes, they're going to make the elderly frail and sick pay for it. After all, they wont be needing it themselves, for much longer, will they.

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  • Not a surprise. Some GPs are already very good at exploiting the system to their own pecuniary benefit. I agree with Michael Stone that it is essential that lay members on commissioning consortia have no links with GPs on the same board; otherwise contracts for outsourced services could go to companies in which some GPs have financial interests, rather than the most appropriate.

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  • Anonymous | 4-Jul-2011 6:19 pm:
    Indeed!!

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  • I agree that this is unacceptable and it needs to be stopped.

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  • But it won't be stopped Sara, now they have a bloody mandate to carry on and increase their profits!

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  • michael stone

    Jacqueline Hickman | 4-Jul-2011 7:21 pm

    There does, appear to be 'a claim' that the GPs within the consortia 'underlaying' the commissioning board, are not part of the commissioning board: it has been claimed that a Practice Nurse within one of the GP Surgeries, could be on the commissioning board, because there is independence. There isn't, but this type of argument, could lead to lay representatives on commissioning boards, who are connected to some of the underlaying GPs - that is not, in any true sense, 'independent'.
    I am not sanguine about this, because unless GPs cannot take control of the way this secondary commissionng cash is spent, some GPs will try to get 'onto the other end' of the commissioning.
    I can't help but think, that if the proper safeguards were in place, we would have be hearing more complaints from GPs at the moment - I have not noticed those complaints, which is not (to my mind) a good sign !

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  • michael stone

    mike | 4-Jul-2011 3:31 pm

    There must be some significance, in this observation. Whenever we are discussing doctors, managers or the 'world in general', we seem to agree.
    When nurses in particular come up, we often seem to disagree. You are a nurse, I am not - the significance, is to do with 'closeness and perspective', an area I am very interested in, but is off topic here !

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