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NHS England refuses to release details of Carr-Hill formula review group

Exclusive NHS England has refused to release details of the technical group who will be reviewing the Carr-Hill allocation formula for GP practice funding, saying that the release of the information was exempt from the ‘public interest test’.

A request from Pulse under the Freedom of Information Act for the names of the delegates in the group reviewing how to ensure more funding is shifted to deprived areas was rejected, and an appeal was also rejected.

The move is in contrast to the previous review of the Carr-Hill formula in 2007, when NHS Employers set out on a Carr-Hill review by publishing the full list of people tasked to carry it out.

The findings of that review were never implemented, but another technical group was formed in March 2012 to implement a Government pledge to increase funding for practices in the most deprived areas via a so-called ‘patient premium’.

The changes were initially agreed in principle for 2013/14, then postponed to 2014/15, have been finally delayed to 2015/16.

Pulse has learnt that the group does not currently include representatives from the GPC, although the BMA is represented by its health policy unit instead.

But a request for details on the other members of the group was rejected by NHS England.

Responding to the FOI request, NHS England said: ‘The negotiating parties agreed to this review and a technical group was formed in March 2012. The group was co-ordinated by NHS Employers, with membership from the Department of Health and the British Medical Association’s Health Policy and Economic Research Unit. NHS England replaced the Department of Health as members from April 2013.’

It added: ‘NHS England holds this information. However, this information is exempt under section 40(2) (personal information) of the FOI Act, as the information constitutes third party data. Section 40(2) provides that personal data about third parties is exempt information if one of the conditions set out in section 40(3) is satisfied.

‘Under the FOI Act disclosure of this information would breach the fair processing principle contained in the Data Protection Act (DPA), where it would be unfair to that person/is confidential. Section 40(2) is an absolute exemption and therefore not subject to the public interest test when considering disclosure of information.’

NHS England also refused to provide further details around specifics of the brief that secret review group is working to, beyond saying it is looking at how to better factor in deprivation factors - a promise given in 2010 as part of the coalition agreement - and that this had been delayed.

A BMA spokesperson said that the work of the technical group was at an ‘early stage’ and that there was ‘nothing to report’ as yet.

But Dr Fiona Cornish, a GP in Cambridge and a member of the GPC, said NHS England should be more ‘transparent’.

She said: ‘I think that’s naughty. I think it should be very transparent and I think it is poor that you can’t access the details of it. The GPC should feed into it because we are the actual practising doctors. I mean, I think GPs ought to be able to find out how they are going to allocate the money.’

The Carr-Hill formula, named after the professor who devised it and introduced as part of the 2004 contract, is applied to practice populations to calculate the global sum each practice receives, and reflects a range of factors such as patient demographics, mortality and rurality.

Readers' comments (13)

  • Perhaps there is an Agent Hunt after all.....

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  • Bob Hodges

    Releasing my QoF performance data isn't 'in the public interest' then!

    You'll just have to trust me when I say I got full QoF points this year and next year already.

    If my EARNING are 'in the public interest' (see GP contract coming to surgery near YOU in 2015), then why is not the mechanism by which my earnings are effectively decided 'not in the public interest'.

    More lunacy from NHS 'If we can be arsed' England

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  • Could NHS England be asked (as FOI) for the criteria by which members were invited/selected, and their affiliations?
    i.e. were members selected on individual qualification criteria, nominated by keystake organisations, by invitation (if so, by whom and what were the criteria for such invitations) and where were the posts advitised?
    I would have thought that this minimal level of information would be necessary if trust with the profession and NHS was to be established.
    PS is this process "Transparent"?
    Or has the definition of "transparency" changed recently?

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  • One rule for NHS England,another rule for everyone else.I for one would not trust NHS England to get laid in a brothel with £1000 down ther pants.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Ministry of Truth - DoH
    Ministry of Plenty- NHSE
    Ministry of Love- CQC
    Ministry of Peace- CCGs (on the war of commissioning)
    ( please refer to G.O. 'S 1984)

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  • I'd agree with the above. In the interests of transparency, NHS England should release this information (and they should also release information on how much this process is costing, including fees)

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  • Azeem Majeed

    I can't see any rationale for keeping the membership of the technical group confidential. As a condition of appointment to any DH or NHSE committee, the members should agree to their names being published. This helps improve the transparency of decision-making and also reduces the potential for conflicts of interest.

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  • How does NHS England expect the outcomes to have any credibility? My faith in the Benny-Hill formula is unchanged.

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  • Given that this decision is likely to change how GP practices are funded and given that there are likely to be GPs on the committee, i think it is essential to share who is on the panel.

    What if they are all from inner city London?
    What if they are all from rural Cornwall?
    What if they are all 60+? Or all male?

    I am not saying they are not able to make decisions fairly, but the whole thing needs to be completely transparent. CCG meetings are held in public (I am not sure who spends there afternoons watching)- surely this meeting should also be in public?

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  • No decision about me without me?

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