NHS England has blocked local support to practices unable to reach childhood immunisations targets, it has been revealed.
Last month, Pulse revealed that practices were set to lose tens of thousands in income from child immunisations due to stricter targets, including one practice set to lose £66,000.
But in an email to local primary care staff last week, Norfolk and Waveney CCG said that NHS England had refused to let CCGs help practices losing money for not meeting the QOF indicator thresholds.
It comes as an LMC audit found that local practices lost a combined quarter of a million pounds due to new QOF targets.
Primary care staff in Norfolk and Waveney had asked the CCG to consider manual adjustments to the CQRS – which calculates payments to GP practices – to support practices that weren’t able to meet QOF deadlines due to circumstances outside their control.
But the CCG added that it had received confirmation from NHS England that ‘it will not be possible to support manual amendments to these [QOF] indicators’ and that ‘payment can only be made where vaccinations have been administered’.
‘Overall responsibility and budgetary control for QOF’ is with NHS England, it said.
The CCG also reminded GPs that ‘the QOF targets for childhood immunisations have been signed off by the BMA’ and its GP Committee.
Pulse has previously reported that changes to the 2020/21 contract have meant that practices with a high number of migrant families – who either have been vaccinated overseas to a different schedule, or are less likely to have vaccinations – are missing targets and tens of thousands of pounds in payments as a result.
As part of negotiations with NHS England on the 2022/23 GP contract, GPC England asked for a reform of item of service fees and the QOF, with ‘additional support for childhood immunisations’ within QOF to enable practices to ‘deliver more for their patients without being financially penalised’. However, this was rejected.
A spokesperson for NHS England said: ‘The thresholds for childhood immunisations are determined by World Health Organisation targets and are in place to protect people’s health and support immunity.
‘Practices will start earning income once they reach 50% and will earn additional funding on an increasing scale.’
Meanwhile, Essex LMC has compiled a report on the effect of the QOF targets for childhood immunisations on local practices.
The report, sent to the GPC and seen by Pulse, showed that the total financial loss sustained from the 45 GP practices that provided details came to over a quarter of a million.
A total of £286,059.97 will be lost by Essex GP practices, at an average of £6,356.89 per practice.
GP practices in Somerset have already been told by their LMC to assess the ‘viability’ of offering childhood immunisations for future years.
In March, RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said the QOF system for GP payments should be scrapped altogether, as the current system ‘doesn’t make sense whatsoever’.
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has also said QOF should be scrapped, with the metrics retained.
And the health secretary has proposed a ‘national vaccination service’ to relieve GPs of doing immunisations, which new NHS England documents recently revealed is already in the works.