For a long time there has been various amounts of uncertainty among GPs and Practice Managers with regards to how long GP practices have in which to appeal their Notional Rent.
Well, you have 3 years to open a dispute from the date that you receive your new reimbursement figure.
Here’s our proven explanation of why this is the case:
The relevant information is detailed within the NHS (GMS) Regulations 2004, Schedule 6, Paragraphs 99 and 101.
Paragraph 99 states that:
“the contractor and the Primary Care Trust (now NHS England) must make every reasonable effort to communicate and cooperate with each other with a view to resolving the dispute, before referring the dispute for determination in accordance with the NHS dispute resolution procedure.”
This means that NHS England must endeavour to discuss and resolve your Notional Rent appeal at a local level.
If discussions at a local level between your surveyor and NHS England (or their representative) are unsuccessful and the Local Resolution Dispute Procedure (LRDP) has been exhausted, then the matter will be referred to the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) for determination. This must be done within 3 years and is explained in Paragraph 101:
“Any party wishing to refer a dispute as mentioned in sub-paragraph (1) must send the request under sub-paragraph (3) within a period of three years beginning with the date on which the matter giving rise to the dispute happened or should reasonably have come to the attention of the party wishing to refer the dispute.”
Here at GP Surveyors, we have encountered a number of cases recently where NHS England has refused to enter into local Notional Rent negotiations with us (on behalf of our GP clients) because the practices have not raised the challenge within 3 months of receiving their new Notional Rent figure.
NHS England stated that this was because a 3 month time frame was outlined in a letter to the GP practices following their reviews:
“Should you dispute the above determination, this should be indicated to me in writing at the above email address within three months of the date of this letter. This should be accompanied by substantive evidence of your opinion of the current market rent of the premises together with a breakdown of that figure and at least two appropriate CMR comparables for your practice locality provided by an expert advisor appointed by your practice.”
GP Surveyors contested this and had to take the cases to the NHSLA for a determination. The NHSLA confirmed that GP practices do in fact have three years to refer a dispute to the Secretary of State (NHSLA) due to the reasons outlined above.
They also ruled that:
“any timescale that is unilaterally imposed by one party and that restricts the ability of the parties to engage in local dispute resolution is likely to be inconsistent with the Regulations in so far as it limits the parties’ abilities to make every reasonable effort to communicate and co-operate with a view to resolving the dispute before referring the dispute for determination in accordance with the NHS dispute resolution procedure as set out in paragraph 99(1) of Schedule 6 of the Regulations.”
Moreover, NHS England were instructed to appoint a representative within 30 days to discuss and negotiate the Notional Rent cases with GP Surveyors (on behalf of our clients).