By Steve Nowottny
The Department of Health has published full details of how £28 million in overdue QOF payments will be distributed among GPs, with dozens of practices due to receive a five-figure windfall payment.
Pulse revealed last week that an error in the QMAS system dating back seven years had led to a shortfall in payments, with the average GP practice owed around £3,400, including interest.
But the DH has now released details of the payments which are to be made to 8,822 practices across England - with the amount owed ranging from almost £21,000 to just 9p.
In total, 71 practices will be refunded more than £10,000, while 21 practices will not receive any refund.
In a letter setting out details of how the payments will be made, Richard Armstrong, Head of Primary Care in the DH's Commissioning Development Directorate, told PCTs they had a legal responsibility to ensure the payments were made 'as soon as possible in the current financial year'.
He said: 'A discrepancy has been identified between the way QMAS currently calculates ‘Target Population Factor' adjustments for the QOF additional services indicators and the Statement of Financial Entitlements (SFE) that governs payments to practices. The SFE sets out exactly how payments for practices' achievement under the various QOF indicators should be calculated.'
'This error has been in place since the introduction of the new contract arrangements in April 2004 and has resulted in small underpayment to practices year-on-year. This totals approximately £3,400 for the average GP practice over the seven years QOF has been operating. This includes 2010-11 as it is too late to amend QMAS in time for QMAS to calculate 2010-11 achievement payments for the additional services indicators correctly.'
The DH had discussed the problem with the GPC, he added, and QMAS will be adjusted to ensure that correct payments are made in 2011-12 and future years.
PCTs will be provided with additional funding by the DH to make good the underpayments, he said. But from 2011-12 the corrections to QMAS would result in an additional recurring cost of around £3m each year across England which would need to be funded from within PCTs' announced allocations, he said.
Dozens of practices are expecting a five-figure windfall Dozens of practices are expecting a five-figure windfall