Dispute over GPs lease may delay East Barnet health centre opening

GPs who have been waiting over a year for the East Barnet health centre to re-open following work to remove asbestos have been told by NHS Property Services that they cannot return until they sign a new lease.

The GPs argue they have existing licenses in place, have been paying rent at the health centre during the refurbishment and therefore should not be forced to sign a new lease as a condition of moving back in.

The terms of the new lease are not known, and the GPs have said they are willing to enter into negotiations for a new lease but want to move back into the health centre while negotiations are on-going.

East Barnet’s Labour councillors have written to NHS Property Services seeking assurances that the re-opening of the health centre will not be delayed as a result of this new condition.

In their letter to NHS Property Services the councillors said:

“We as the East Barnet ward councillors are very disturbed to hear that the GPs who serve the East Barnet health centre have been told by NHS Property Services that they cannot return to deliver patient care until they sign a new lease. Your website declares that 'the refurbishment of East Barnet health centre is getting ever closer to completion', which is good news, and the urgent need now is surely for the 11,000 patients in the catchment area to be able to use their local health centre again.

“We are very concerned that the legal negotiations over a lease will delay their return, and we urge you to remove any obstacles to the GPs going back as soon as the centre is ready to be occupied. They can then treat their patients while negotiations continue over the lease issue.

“We hope you will agree that the prospect of the GPs having to leave Vale Drive but not being able to work at East Barnet health centre is one that none of us would wish to contemplate. Not only would it leave the GPs in limbo, having paid the rent for the premises during the refurbishment period, but it would deprive patients who are our residents of their right under the NHS Constitution to be seen and treated free at the point of use by their local GPs.

“We would be happy to discuss this further with you and your team at any time.”
East Barnet councillors Phil Cohen and Laurie Williams both attended a meeting with the GPs and patient group on Wednesday last week to discuss the issue.

Cllr Phil Cohen said: "Failure to resolve this issue quickly can only lead to delays in the re-opening of this much needed health centre, and to further suffering of local patients.

"The health scrutiny committee meeting on 13 October is due to get an update on the health centre, but it really needs to be sorted out well before then."

Ends.
Notes:
1. A copy of the East Barnet councillors' letter sent by email to NHS Property Services Regional Director Tony Griffiths follows:

From: philipcohen@hotmail.co.uk
To: tony.griffiths@property.nhs.uk
Subject: East Barnet Health Centre
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 2015 16:41:40 +0100
Dear Tony Griffiths,

We as the East Barnet ward councillors are very disturbed to hear that the GPs who serve the East Barnet health centre have been told by NHS Property Services that they cannot return to deliver patient care until they sign a new lease. Your website declares that 'the refurbishment of East Barnet health centre is getting ever closer to completion', which is good news, and the urgent need now is surely for the 11,000 patients in the catchment area to be able to use their local health centre again.

We are very concerned that the legal negotiations over a lease will delay their return, and we urge you to remove any obstacles to the GPs going back as soon as the centre is ready to be occupied. They can then treat their patients while negotiations continue over the lease issue.

We hope you will agree that the prospect of the GPs having to leave Vale Drive but not being able to work at East Barnet health centre is one that none of us would wish to contemplate. Not only would it leave the GPs in limbo, having paid the rent for the premises during the refurbishment period, but it would deprive patients who are our residents of their right under the NHS Constitution to be seen and treated free at the point of use by their local GPs.

We would be happy to discuss this further with you and your team at any time. I am copying this letter to Thesesa Villiers MP, the GPs concerned and the Patient Participation Group of local patients.

Thanks.

Cllr Philip Cohen
Cllr Laurie Williams
Cllr Rebecca Challice

Members for East Barnet

2. For more on the East Barnet Health Centre see:
http://www.property.nhs.uk/eastbarnet/
http://www.barnetlabour.org.uk/east_barnet_residents_want_their_health_centre 
http://www.barnetlabour.org.uk/labour_to_raise_east_barnet_health_centre_closure_at_health_committee 

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For further details please contact:
Cllr Phil Cohen: cllr.p.cohen@barnet.gov.uk
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568
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