'Astronomical rent rises' threaten Colyton Health Centre

PUBLISHED: 07:01 23 September 2019

Colyton Health Centre

Colyton Health Centre

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Colyton Health Centre has been hit by 'astronomical' rent rises and is being billed for services that don't exist, council watchdogs have been told.

Cllr Martin Shaw. Picture: Chris CarsonCllr Martin Shaw. Picture: Chris Carson

In a report to Devon's Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee today (Monday, September 23) Colyton county councillor Martin Shaw says the centre has been left without a working boiler since June and without basic fire checks being carried out.

Its rent has increased from some £5,000 around five years ago to an expected £40,000 this year, he reports.

Seaton and Colyton Medical Practice has been fighting a long-running battle over rapidly rising charges for the centre, in Grove Hill, since NHS Property Services took over as its landlords.

Combined with rent rises, the maintenance of the property has deteriorated to the extent that basic fire checks have not been carried out, the boiler has not been working for three months, and they are being billed for services that are not being provided, says Cllr Shaw.

His report outlines the problems the Practice is facing and he, with support from the Practice, has called for public scrutiny over NHS Property Services' behavior.

The centre is a small, single storey building, dating from the 1960s, which the Practice rents from NHS Property Services.

The Practice pays rent, together with 63 per cent of the costs of running the building. Rents used to be around £5,000 a year, hitting a highest figure of £5,500 in 2015-16, the last year in which the North Devon NHS Trust were landlords.

However, since NHS Property Services took over ownership of the property in 2016, the rents have escalated, to £15,422.66 in 2016-17, £34,657.39 in 2017-18, and a figure expected to be around the £40,000 mark for 2018-19.

Cllr Shaw said: "These are ludicrous figures for a building the size of a small bungalow, and the Practice is contesting them."

The report says that NHS Property Services has also been inaccurately billing the practice - including being charged for fitting bed alarms for patients, when there are no beds in Colyton Health Centre.

Kirstine House, practice manager, added: "When preparing for a recent CQC inspection, we had to stick the floor in the nurses' room down with duct tape as our request to replace it made five months previously had not been actioned.

"We also discovered that basic fire checks had not been carried out."

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