BMA secures significant reduction in NHSPS service charge claims for practices The BMA has successfully assisted five GP practices in significantly reducing years of unsubstantiated service charge claims demanded by NHS Property Services (NHSPS) – with one practice seeing NHSPS’ claim against them reduced by more than £400,000, a reduction of more than 80%.
The landmark cases, brought in 2020, were started after practices began to struggle to afford soaring service charges set by NHSPS, despite there being no prior agreement or explanation for the price hike.
BMA lawyers challenged NHSPS on two issues: the legal basis on which the charges were being imposed, and the magnitude of the fees.
During the first phase of the case, the BMA and the practices sought a legal declaration that NHSPS could not rely on its Consolidated Charging Policy as a basis for issuing the new charges, and that the imposition of the higher charges was therefore, unlawful.
Despite the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the extraordinary pressure this placed GPs under, NHSPS launched a countersuit against each of the practices demanding recovery of the historical service charges, transforming the dispute into a major commercial lawsuit.
In June 2020, NHSPS admitted that its charging policy had not been incorporated into or retrospectively varied the practices’ legal terms of occupation and existing service charge obligations. The BMA then assisted the five practices in settling with NHSPS the fees and service charges sums outside of court, for the period between 2013/14 and 2019/20, securing reductions on the amounts claimed by NHSPS for the five practices ranging from £25,000 to more than £400,000, a total reduction of more than £750,000.
The BMA has created guidance for practices in a similar position, to help advise them on what to do if they are also facing disproportionate service charges.
Read the full statement and comment by Gaurav Gupta, GPC premises lead at the BMA, here.