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DH puts global sum shake-up back on table

By Steve Nowottny

A controversial shake-up of the global sum formula that could see big increases in funding some practices and swingeing cuts for others will be considered in the next round of contract negotiations.

The Formula Review Group's recommendations – which would see global sum income rise by up to 31% in some practices, but fall by as much as 18% in others – are now back on the table.

The recommendations had appeared to have been kicked into the long grass by ministers, after a consultation published last September found just 29% of GPs backed the revamp, and only 6% felt no caveats should be applied to its introduction.

But the Department of Health, in an update on health minister Lord Darzi's Next Stage Review, revealed that NHS Employers and the BMA had begun negotiations on potential improvements to the GMS contract for 2009/10. It added: ‘The recommendations of the Formula Review Group will feed into these discussions.'

Practices in inner-city and deprived areas, those with high staff costs and those with a high patient turnover would be likely to benefit from the funding shake-up.

But larger practices, those in rural or affluent areas and those with lots of elderly patients or patients in nursing homes would be set to lose out.

Dr Barry Moyse, chair of Somerset LMC, said: ‘We've heard nothing about this and we were hoping there would be a period of stability. This is obviously not good news.

‘We're a rural county with a great number of rural practices and clearly the whole point of the review was to redistribute funds away from rural and suburban practices into inner-city urban practices – which we don't have many of in Somerset.'

Dr Barry Moyse, chair of Somerset LMC Dr Barry Moyse

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