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GP payments chaos will be resolved ‘by next April’, NHS England says

Exclusive Ongoing problems with practices receiving incorrect or late payments which have forced some GPs to take out overdrafts and others to be threatened with court summons will be resolved by next April at the very latest, NHS England’s head of primary care has promised.

Dr David Geddes told Pulse he was unable to give a precise timescale for when NHS England expected to resolve the payment problems which have dogged practices since the handover from PCTs in April – but did offer a ‘cast iron’ guarantee that the issues would be cleared up within the next four and a half months to enable GPs to prepare their year-end accounts.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse, Dr Geddes, a GP in York, also hinted that QOF could continue to shrink in future years in order to free up cash for CCGs to use for local commissioning priorities.

Throughout this year Pulse has reported a string of issues with GPs receiving late or incomprehensible payments from CCGs, local area teams and other agencies.

Some practices have been threatened with court summons to take their properties away, and Pulse revealed last month that almost half of GPs in England were still facing unresolved issues with late or incomplete payments, a situation that GP leaders said was ‘unacceptable’.

Dr Geddes said some of the problems were ‘inevitable’ due to the complexity of the handover from PCTs, but insisted the problems would be sorted out before the next financial year at the latest.

He said: ‘We are not just trying to spend a lot of time just doing a process map. We are looking at solutions as we go along, and some solutions have already been found. So it is a matter of getting a solution, delivering it and moving on.’

‘The issue for us is to make sure that there is confidence in the system and really importantly for practices, that actually they need to audit, particularly at times of uncertainty, what are the payments for? So therefore it is really important that we have a system that can give practices up-to-date information regarding the audit trail that is required, so that they are going to be able to do their year-end accounts.’

When pressed by Pulse if he could give a ‘cast iron’ promise that it would be fixed before April, Dr Geddes said: ‘Oh, yes. It should be before then.’

Dr Geddes also suggested that plans to shrink the QOF this year could be the beginning of a programme of changes to reduce the influence of the framework in future years.

He said that there would be some ‘national requirements’ retained in the QOF, but that NHS England was looking at how it could free up funds for CCGs to commission practices to address local priorities.

He said: ‘The purpose behind shifting QOF is to rebalance the work that we are asking GPs to do and taking the process away from bureaucracy and moving it to more meaningful clinical engagement, and that is how we want to see the world developing.’

‘QOF has some advantages – there are some good elements of QOF – but what we do need to do is make sure that actually we are looking towards a future and engaging much more with CCGs about how we wish to be able to deliver a broader scope of care.’

‘That means that in the future we will find a far greater dialogue between CCGs and area teams about what the out-of-hospital offer should be for primary care.’

Dr Robert Morley, chair of the GPC contracts and regulation subcommittee and executive secretary of Birmingham LMC, said that as GPs have different year ends, it would not benefit many to have the problems resolved by April.

He said: ‘Different practices have different accounts, some practices I’m afraid may have accounts that finish at the end of the calendar year.’

He added: ‘The NHS is getting away very lightly with the horrendous problems it’s caused for practices, practices will have lost money, will have had to incur lots of additional managerial work in trying to chase these payments. They’re not going to be compensated for that in any way.

‘So fair enough to say they’re going to sort things out by the end of the year, but tnat will have taken 12 months to sort out a complete and utter mess of their making, and it won’t compensate for anything thats gone wrong in the intervening 12 months.’

 

Related images

  • Dr David Geddes - online

Readers' comments (15)

  • So when I take early retirement it will take 12 months for my replacement to be able to work effectively........

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  • The thing is this: How many years did NHS England have in which to set the procedures, systems and methadologies.....over two was it? Still they cannot get things right and yet NHS England expects GP surgeries to change/modify overnight - and literally in some cases. Not good enough really

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  • Peter Swinyard

    So - if I take a year to sort out someone's BP or diabetes or indeed to get round to paying a new member of staff that's OK then?

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  • Chief at the Institiute of Broken Promises says:- 'Here's another promise!'

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  • So NHS England are going to refund us our overdraft fees are they? In 17 years in practice we have never had these problems! How are we expected to run a business as the government wants us to if THEY cant even pay us on time. It is irresponsible of them not to have set up a robust payment system before April1 when they had years of notice before the start of CCGs'. how would the MPs like it if they didtn get paid on time, Oops i suppose if you have a few million in the bank it doesnt matter ala Jeremy Hunt !

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  • Just in time for the Primary Care Support function to be decimated and a whole raft of other stuff to go wrong.

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  • Try paying HMRC a year late Doc Geddes and see what happens!

    Outrageous and yet again illustrates how we are viewed by the state.

    I presume the same interest and fines charged by HMRC will be added to the late payments Doc Geddes.

    If not then why not Doc Geddes?

    I think we should be told!

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  • I think if I was Dr Geddes I would be inclined to resign over this issue

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  • No one who is high up in NHS England or the HMG/civil service will ever take responsibility for the mess they are making.I am only surprised they have not found a way to blame GPs yet.

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  • I hope he will be working on this on Christmas Eve.

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