Private and NHS GP service barred on the same site

New guidance from NHS England poses ‘cliff-edge threat’ to some GP businesses.

By a staff reporter.

Private GPs’ hopes of launching their services in NHS GP practices have suffered a serious setback.

Lawyers warn that new NHS England guidance on the GMS contract for GPs outlines a blanket ban on GPs advertising and hosting private GP services from within their surgery premises. 

They say the changes mark a sea change and are potentially a major threat to some existing practice business models.

According to Hempsons, regulations and directions governing all types of GP contracts have never included specific contractual restrictions on offering private GP services. 

Bryn Morgan

In a newsflash on the company’s website last month, partners Bryn Morgan and Michael Rourke said GPs would, of course, need to ensure that any private services did not conflict with their contractual obligations to the NHS and their registered patients. 

But, beyond this, and so long as the contract was being performed, practices had relative freedom to design their businesses to include a private GP element if they so wished, the lawyers say.

Zero-tolerance approach

But they warn: ‘Following the publication of the guidance, it seems we are now moving towards a zero-tolerance approach, whereby any housing of private GP services in the same building as the NHS practice would amount to a breach of the contract itself.’