Landlords came close to closing a GP surgery amid a lease renewal blunder involving NHS Property Services and NHS England, HSJ has learned.
The situation was only resolved when NHS England took on a new 12-month lease for the building, which is used by two GPs in Wednesbury, in the West Midlands. A source close to the incident said only an hour remained until the previous lease expired on 14 November.
A second source confirmed the lease was signed “very late in the day”, with the landlord threatening to lock the building.
A ground lease for the land was transferred to NHS Property Services when Wednesbury and West Bromwich Primary Care Trust was abolished in April. However, the temporary building, which was not considered a healthcare property asset, was not transferred.
NHS Property Services claims the building − which was rented annually under a deal managed and funded by the PCT − remained the responsibility of commissioners. The need to renew the deal was not highlighted to NHS England at the time of the handover.
A source involved said while NHS Property Services’ regional arm had negotiated a lease extension, its central operation had not signed the lease, despite having had two months’ notice.
The source said that the building’s owner then warned the surgery its premises would be locked.
“There was one hour of the working day left for signature of the lease before the rental company would lock up the building. NHS England had to take the lease instead of [NHS Property Services],” they added.
A spokeswoman for NHS Property Services did not comment on how close the building came to being locked but said the rental agreement did not transfer to it on 1 April.
“Therefore, we did not have responsibility for renewing the hire agreement on this building,” she said.
“As part of our local collaborative working with NHS England, at their request we assisted them in their work to renew the hire agreement on behalf of the local GPs who occupy the building.”
A spokesperson for NHS England’s Birmingham, Solihull and Black Country area team said it was working with NHS Property Services “to resolve any outstanding legacy issues”.
Information supplied to HSJ