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Inequalities may worsen

Every GP practice in England and Wales is likely to have been paid the wrong amount for the second and the third quarters of this year.

A fault in the Exeter payments system meant practices that had taken on more patients were paid less. Practices whose list dropped in size received more in their global sum.

The GPC tackled the Government after LMCs complained. It confirmed a blunder had been made in programming the system and said fourth-quarter global sum payments would include a balancing figure. GPC chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said a 'cock up' meant data had effectively been recorded twice.

The Department of Health said the level of under- and over-payment was hundreds of pounds per practice at most.

Chafford Hundred practice in Essex was one of those who noticed the error after seeing its weighted list falling despite taking on more than 700 patients.

Practice manager Colin Townsend said: 'I'm delighted they have found out what the problem is. We did think it was strange that this had happened and knew it must have been an error somewhere.'

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