Rates, Grants & Insurance Letter Template
A Template letter that you can copy and paste (and fill in the gaps) before you send to your MPs
[Name of MP]
[Email address of MP]
Dear [Name of MP]
[Physiotherapy/ Osteopathy/ Chiropractic/ MSK] Businesses and Covid-19
The Musculoskeletal Partners Network (MSKPN) sits at the heart of the independent musculoskeletal industry to give providers of MSK services a collective voice and represents over 100 organisations.
Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 provided that various Retail, Leisure and Hospitality (RLH) industries were subject to closure on 23 March 2020 but specifically exempted from this requirement the Medical Services sector (this included osteopaths, dentists, chiropractors).
Government issued instructions to Local Authorities to provide 100% relief from Business Rates for 12 months and a Grant to those RLH businesses giving a discretion to individual Local Authorities to decide if similar businesses not listed could be aligned to be granted this same relief.
Private physiotherapy businesses for the vast majority provide secondary care, outpatient clinics. They are not involved in primary care and do not require CQC registration as they do not see emergency or urgent conditions. They have no imaging facilities, do not inject or prescribe and do not have a paediatric service. Most do not provide any NHS services. Many run in a gym setting for pre and post elective surgery rehabilitation and provide Pilates classes and massage and rely almost completely on face to face contact.
Businesses such as wellness centres, massage parlours, indoor sports facilities, gyms were all granted RHL relief. Whilst a handful of Local Authorities have been willing to utilise the discretion given to them in granting the available reliefs/grants to physiotherapy businesses, these have tended to be outside London. The majority of London Boroughs have been unwilling to use this discretion at all, even in one instance where the Valuation Office Agency categorisation of ‘Gym and Premises’ enabled it to grant Business Rates Relief initially it then withdrew it on the basis that, as a Medical Service, it had been excluded from the Government closure requirements.
A further implication of the Government classification (as a Medical Service) being exempted from closure requirements is that businesses that might otherwise have been entitled to insurance payouts for Business Interruption Insurance are currently unable to secure these.
In the case of Aviva, this is being challenged by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), our professional trade body, on the basis that the overall effect of Government policy (healthcare policy implemented through a legal framework involving the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England (NHSE) and Stay at Home guidance issued by the government to both healthcare workers and the public) was that the industry was forced to close its doors.
The CSP advised that all non-essential face to face health and social care delivery must stop and remote consultations should be used to provide services without physical interaction. All musculoskeletal and outpatients’ services were stopped. To have continued treating patients in our clinics would have breached government instructions, Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) (statutory regulator within the UK for physiotherapists) regulatory obligations, CSP guidance and the physiotherapists common law Duty of Care.
Significant financial hardship has been suffered by physiotherapy businesses as a result of the catastrophic loss in income due to closure, in line with the majority of the RLH businesses, but unlike them we are not receiving the rates/grant benefit, nor insurance payouts, to help alleviate this loss meaning many are facing imminent insolvency with landlords (often unsympathetic) to pay in addition. 50% of our members do not believe they will survive beyond June and if they do, they will likely be technically insolvent given their growing liabilities.
If this transpires then 2 million patients who rely on our members services will have to turn to an already overstretched NHS which itself has a growing backlog due to the redeployment of so much resource into the fight against COVID.
Consequences of Government advice:
- prevented our patients from visiting us (Stay at Home, Save Lives)
- prevented us from opening our clinics as we couldn’t comply with our regulatory duties/ couldn’t safely social distance either our patients/our staff
- ensured CSP told physios to provide services without physical interaction except for very limited circumstances
Financial consequences of Government excluding Medical Services sector from its closure requirements:
- The majority of Local Authorities will not use the flexibility afforded to them to align us with gyms/leisure facilities/wellness centres and instead insist we fall within the Medical Services exemption and refuse us Business Rates relief and Grants
- Insurance companies are using this as a reason not to pay out for Business Interruption Insurance
Action we have taken: We have written to our Local Authorities/London Boroughs, to MPs, to Robert Jenrick and Alok Sharma; MSK PN has appeared on ITV London News, was featured in the Sunday Telegraph Business, the Sunday Times, the Times Business (Monday – link attached) and will hopefully be appearing on Channel 5 News.
We really need your help in:
- directing [Local Authorities/London Boroughs] in particular to use the flexibility they have clearly been given to enable Business Rates relief and Grants to be given to physiotherapy businesses (and others included within the Medical Services sector) that will simply disappear if they are not urgently granted this help
- getting the Government to recognise and urgently address the crippling financial injustice being wrought on this industry by its blanket exemption in the emergency legislation.
If you need any further information, then please do not hesitate to contact me.