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Independents' Day

GPs told to over-egg quality aspiration to ease cash-flow

Some LMCs are advising

practices to aspire to more quality points than they think they will get in order to maximise the cash they get upfront.

LMCs said practices would have more flexibility to spend the quality money and could use it to alleviate cash-flow problems by aiming higher than they thought they could achieve.

But GP negotiators warned against 'manipulating' the framework and said GPs would have to justify their claim with their primary care organisation.

Under the quality framework practices will be paid one-third of the number of points they have aspired to in monthly instalments. The remainder will be paid as a lump sum after the end of the financial year when the total number of points achieved has been added up.

If a practice aspired to 1,050 points it would get

350 points ­ £26,000 on

average.

Only if it scored less than 350 points would a practice face having cash clawed back at the end of the year.

Dr Jimmy Courtney, Eastern LMC secretary in Northern Ireland, said practices would only face problems if they failed to get 350 points.

'It may cause PCOs and boards some difficulty in estimating money if everybody aspires to 1,000 points but that's their problem,' he added. 'I think practices have nothing to lose.'

Dr John Peniket, secretary of Gloucestershire LMC, said practices should 'pitch their bid high'.

He added: 'It's better to aim high rather than aim low and there will be no clawback unless it's hopelessly low.'

Dr Paul Roblin, secretary of Oxfordshire LMC, said he was comfortable with GPs aspiring to the maximum 1,050 points. 'I think it's up to individual practices,' he said.

'I'm comfortable provided it's justifiable, but until you've tried it and assessed it you can't say it's unachievable and you have to make a guess anyway, so why not make it in your favour?'

GPC joint-deputy chair Dr Simon Fradd said the framework was not designed to pay GPs upfront: 'We didn't design the contract for people to manipulate and we believe the arrangements are fair.'

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