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£1.8bn overspend on GPs, report finds

By Georgie Hobbs

The Government has been accused of adding to the drip-feed of anti-GP spin after a new report showed it had spent £1.8bn more than expected on general practice since the start of the new contract.

A report by the NHS Information Centre says that since the introduction of the quality and outcomes framework in 2004, the Government has spent £20.5bn – 9.2% more than anticipated – on GPs.

The alleged overspend equates to £1.7bn in England, £41m in Wales and £68m in Northern Ireland.

However, there are fears the Government will twist the figures to justify tighter targets, including linking the QOF to the thorny issue of GP access.

The GPC said this week it had said when the QOF was negotiated that practices nationwide were already well exceeding the Government's expectation that the average practice would achieve 750 QOF points, and that they would be due extra payments if targets were set too low.

Between 2004/5, GPs hit an average of 92% of QOF points.

Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC chair, said: ‘Family doctors rose to the challenges of performance-related pay. This is why the gross investment guarantee was exceeded. It adds up to good news for patient care.'

Dr Brian Dunn, Northern Ireland GPC chair and a GP in Inver, said the Government was undermining GPs by releasing the figures three years after the new contract.

He said: ‘It just adds to the drip, drip, drip of bad publicity fuelled by the Government.'

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said the report showed ‘an unforgivable lack of understanding of what GPs do on a daily basis'.

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