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Practices have renewed calls for a controversial formula used to weight quality pay to be scrapped after GPs confirmed they had lost thousands of pounds because of it.

The 'square root' formula was intended to introduce a minimum earnings threshold for practices with low disease prevalence. But areas with high prevalence said its 'compressive' effect had reduced the maximum amount they could earn.

Dr Tim Scott, a GP in Tibshelf, north Derbyshire, said his practice of 13,300 patients had lost £21,210. 'It's a very bad policy and it's never been applied to other fees,' he said.

He believes the discrepancy will rise to £35,000 next year as quality points increase in value, and said the formula should be scrapped.

Dr Nev Bradley, chair of Wirral LMC, said small urban practices like his own, which has a high elderly population, were hit hardest. 'I think this is all very difficult to quantify, but suffice it to say it's always the same practices that lose out,' he said. 'It must be carefully revised.'

Dr Gavin Jamie, a GP in Swindon who previously warned the formula would not just redistribute money but actually result in a net loss of £8.3 million for the UK, said early results confirmed his fears.

Calculations for Scotland showed the formula had resulted in a net loss for general practice across the country of £430,000, he said. The big-gest loss, £367,312, was in Lothian followed by Gram-

pian with £145,977.

GPC Wales chair Dr Andrew Dearden played down the controversy, saying it was artificial to say practices had lost out: 'It's kind of like losing a pound and finding a fiver.'

By Jacqueline Head

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