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GP practice wins legal bid for £27k NHS England immunisation reimbursement

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GPs in Derbyshire have won a dispute against NHS England that could have ramifications for practices across the country.

Littlewick Medical Centre in Derbyshire won £27,000 from NHS England after they refused to reimburse the practice for doing childhood immunisations.

NHS England withheld the reimbursement payments because the practice submitted their claims on the manual NHS system rather than through the new online system.

But the Family Health Services Appeal Unit, which is the primary care arm of NHS Litigation Authority, ruled in favour of the practice, saying that NHS England’s communication of the system change had been insufficient.

NHS England has since paid the practice the £27,000 in reimbursement payments that they were owed.

Dr Gail Walton, senior partner at Littlewick Medical Centre, said: ‘This was a very significant matter for our practice and our patients across Derbyshire.

‘Childhood immunisations are fundamentally important and our ongoing delivery of such a service should in no way be compromised by the withholding of reimbursement for immunisations already correctly given.’

The practice was represented by a solicitor funded through the GP Defence Fund (GPDF), which supports legal challenges thought to be of national importance.

David Gibbs, chief operating officer of Derby and Derbyshire LMC, said the issue ‘may well affect other practices around the country’.

He added: ‘The support of the GPDF in recognising the value of the case in the first instance and then bringing its financial backing to bear to fund the legal process, were critical in achieving a successful outcome.’

GPDF chairman Dr Douglas Moederle-Lumb said: ‘The Littlewick case is a clear example of how the GPDF can support individual GP practices with specific cases that are positive locally and build legal precedent for practices everywhere.

‘We are delighted to have supported the Littlewick Medical Centre and the Derby and Derbyshire LMC to reach a successful conclusion in this challenging situation.’

An NHS England (North Midlands) spokesperson said: ‘While we respect the decision, NHS England has not changed its position in relation to management of childhood vaccines and immunisation claims.

‘The GMS direction clearly states that commissioners are unable to authorise any late submission of claims and GP practices are responsible for submitting them in a timely way. We continue to manage all claims in accordance with the directions.’