I’m a sole contractor under the NHS; what happens to my NHS contract when I die?
2 July 2019 by Leah Groves
If you are a sole contractor under the NHS Contract, you should be aware that pursuant to section 306 your NHS contract will terminate upon your death.
For contracts issued in 2006, termination occurs automatically 7 days following death, although NHS England had the discretion to delay this termination by 3 months. As a sole contractor, you have no legal right to delay or oppose the NHS Contract termination and the NHS have discretion to terminate your contract. Relying on the discretion of NHS England is a risk, particularly as each Local Area Team does not always seem to adopt a uniform approach.
Despite some leniency, as NHS England now have discretion to re-direct an NHS contract under the direction of the Executors of a sole practitioner’s Will and more recently issued NHS contracts terminating after 28 days and the discretion to delay termination extended by a further 6 months, this is a frightening prospect.
Termination of the NHS Contract in such circumstances effectively renders the value of your Estate considerable less than anticipated and leaves a fully operational business with the usual mortgage/rent, staff and utility expenses and other liabilities without an income, virtually overnight!
That said, thankfully, there is a solution which mitigates this risk. You can enter into a ‘partnership’ with another dentist that you trust, which ensures that the NHS contract survives in the event of your death. The NHS contract must be formally changed to include your nominated dentist ‘partner’ and the ‘partnership’ between you must be registered with the CQC.
Further, in order to ensure that your chosen dentist partner does not reap the benefits of your contract (nor be held responsible for any contract breach or financial clawback) and simply holds the contract on trust for you and complies with the wishes of your Executors in the event of your death, you must both enter into a Declaration of Trust.
This is not a perfect workaround by any means, but, it does offer some protection for your livelihood!