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GPs set to lose thousands under new access survey

By Gareth Iacobucci

GP practices across the UK could lose thousands of pounds in QOF payments as a result of the new GP access survey, even if they perform well, GP leaders have warned.

It comes after it emerged that GPs in Scotland – where results have just been published - faced cuts of up to £16,000, despite scoring positively overall.

The BMA warned that low response rates to the new postal survey have skewed the results to ‘devastating' effect against some practices, heightening fears that practices in the rest of the UK will face big hits to their income.

GPs in England are set to receive the first results of the revised survey at the end of next month, and the GPC is calling on the Government to urgently review the new methodology of the survey in all UK countries.

As of this year, survey payments became linked to QOF rather than a DES, with payment to practices based on two sets of questions covering rapid access and advance booking.

In Scotland, 90% of respondents – the current government target - were satisfied with access to appointments within 48 hours. Three quarters of patients were able to make pre-bookable appointments three or more days in advance.

However, the BMA said the flawed methodology of the survey, which was posted to patients in all four UK countries, meant that a tiny minority were able to have a huge bearing on some practices overall scores.

They said one practice in Lanarkshire would lose nearly than £16,000 because of the views of only 0.28% of patients of the practice (51 patients from a practice list of 18,000).

Another practice in Ayrshire & Arran lost funding of around £8,000 despite offering advance access and pre-bookable appointments as well as offering extended hours appointments throughout the week.

‘Unfortunately this new survey has failed to get enough patients to respond to it which has resulted in extremely small numbers of patient responses having devastating effects on some practices,' said Dr Dean Marshall, chairman of the Scottish GPC.

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman described the situation as ‘appalling', and warned of a similar impact in the rest of the UK.

‘The financial impact on some practices has been huge and unfair. For a practice to lose a large amount of funding because the survey methodology is flawed is appalling and patients will lose out if there is a knock on effect on services.

He added: ‘The question is whether the lower response rate affects GP income - it's clear in Scotland that it has.

‘We ask the UK governments to urgently review the consequences of this year's survey and to commit to withdrawing it from next year.'

Poor response to new patient survey on GP access would lose GPs thousands

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