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26.06.19

NHS Property debt nearly triples in 4 years, says report

A report by the National Audit Office shows that debt has tripled in NHS Property Services, with the service struggling to retrieve outstanding rent.

The NAO claims that the service lacks the powers the ensure tenants sign rental agreements and regulations limit its ability to take action when bills are left unpaid.

The service was set up in 2011 to manage, maintain and improve its 2,900 properties owned by NHS England, strategic health authorities and primary care trusts.

Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said:

“The Service has slowly improved the way it manages its NHS properties. However, more than eight years after being created it still lacks the powers it needs to run its affairs effectively, and the accuracy of bills is still disputed.

“In our view, too many NHS organisations and GPs seem to regard paying for their premises as optional, with almost £700 million either written off or still unpaid.

“The system for charging for NHS property is not working effectively and the Department urgently needs to address the fundamental causes of this unsatisfactory situation.”

Between 2014 and 2018 NHS Property had to write off £110 million of debt and a new arbitration process for resolving disputes has been labelled as ineffective.

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