Wirral health chiefs hit out at landlord who repossessed doctors’ surgery in West Kirby
HEALTH chiefs last night branded a landlord who repossessed a doctors’ surgery in a row over unpaid rent as “reckless”.
Wirral Primary Care Trust accused Wayne Roberts of “unacceptable” behaviour after he shut GPs and nurses out of Sandstone Medical Centre, in West Kirby, last Friday night.
Officials also confirmed they are taking legal advice about how they can “protect the interests” of patients.
The repossession left surgery staff working from their car boots opposite the Banks Road surgery yesterday, redirecting patients to other NHS services.
Mr Roberts had told the Daily Post he had “attempted to resolve matters amicably” but claimed the practice’s doctors “simply do not wish to pay a commercial rent”.
He also criticised NHS Wirral, claiming it was “kept fully informed of all developments but has singularly made no effort whatsoever to protect the interests of their patients”.
But last night a PCT spokesman said: “Although Mr Roberts’ dispute is with the practice, NHS Wirral absolutely refutes the unfounded comments made by him against the PCT.
“Mr Roberts has acted in an arbitrary and reckless manner. Irrespective of his issues with the practice, it is unacceptable to deny doctors and patients access to both the premises and their personal medical records.
“We are taking legal advice as to the further steps we can take to protect the interests of patients and services.”
The spokesman said caring for the surgery’s 4,000 patients was its “number one priority and has been so throughout this incident”.
He added: “We have worked closely with the practice during this particularly difficult time which has been caused solely by Mr Roberts, who has acted with no consideration for the safety or wellbeing of the patients.
“The PCT has no concerns with regards to the services provided to patients at the medical centre, nor are there any concerns with the clinical practice of the doctors and nurses.
“We have made ongoing efforts to facilitate agreement between the practice and Mr Roberts. However Mr Roberts has demanded a near-doubling in rent on the premises, disregarding the rental figure agreed with the NHS.
“He describes this as a ‘commercial rent’, but the current figure was agreed with the District Valuer as an appropriate rent for the premises.”
Last night Mr Roberts’s solicitor, Peter Devine, accused the PCT of being “disingenuous” and said it was kept informed of developments throughout.
Mr Devine said: “My client has not been reckless or acted in an arbitrary fashion.
“They stonewalled my client and showed no concern for patients during what was a lack of negotiations.
“My client regrets patients have been inconvenienced but that is not his fault. He owns the building for which he has not received any rent for months.
“They simply wanted my client to let them back in on a rent-free basis.”