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GPC negotiates extension to named GP deadline as practices face extra paperwork due to lack of IT codes

Exclusive The GPC has negotiated a one month extension to the deadline for practices to inform elderly patients about their named GP as practices report having to face extra paperwork because they have not received essential IT codes, Pulse has learnt.

Practices are having to keep paper lists of patients that have been informed of their named GP because they have not received the Read code that shows GPs have complied with the contractual obligation.  

However, GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul told Pulse today (Thursday) that the deadline for informing patients has been put back until the end of July from the end of June. This follows a rewording of the unplanned admissions DES specification, that has clarified that GPs have until September to complete care plans for 2% of their most vulnerable patients.

The GPC has previously said the named GP scheme will not be onerous, but GPs face having to carry out a bulk update between the time the new code becomes available and the deadline for submissions, which had been the end of June.

Dr Nagpaul told Pulse: ‘The named GP now has been extended to the end of July, not June. So we’ve actually got two changes that have been made, and are in the guidance.’

But practices have reported they still haven’t received the codes to start assigning named GPs. The Health and Social Care Information Centre made the READ code available to GP IT suppliers on March 18 and one major supplier told Pulse that the code was still being piloted in practices this week before being rolled out nationally next week.

Dr David Jenner, the PMS lead for NHS Alliance and a GP in Cullompton, Devon told Pulse: ´The updated codes for the new contract haven’t been finished yet, and no one’s told me when they’re coming out. The trouble is, I’ve seen already 25 people over 75, who I have to enter the code for.’

‘To be honest all my patients know who their doctor is anyway, because we run a personal list. But I don’t want to have to post it out to them, because that costs money and I’ve got about 1,500 of them in our practice.’

Dr Eithne MacRae, a GP in Rainford, St Helens, flagged the issue up in her contribution to Pulse´s 24 hours in general practice live blog last week (1 April).

She said this week: ‘We´ve written letters that we´re handing out to patients as and when they attend… Our receptionists also have to keep a tally of patients who have received the letter. It´s do-able in a small practice like ours but must be much more difficult in large practices where patients might not see the same GP twice.’

The controversial named GP scheme was opposed by three quarters of GPs, a Pulse survey in November showed. It has since been watered down to allow GPs to devolve responsibility for care co-ordination to other healthcare professionals such as district nurses.

As well as increasing the value of the global sum to support the scheme, GP practices will be offered additional funding of £5 per patient from CCGs’ budget to support the policy, allocated via CCGs – although Pulse has reported that CCGs have been unable to give a commitment they will be able to provide the funding.

A spokesperson for NHS England, said: ‘HSCIC released the read code “informing patient of named accountable general practitioner” for the April 2014 release on 18 March 2014. The IT system supplier to a GP practice is responsible for updating their system with new read codes and practices should contact their supplier for more information.’

A spokesperson for EMIS said: ‘There is no delay in issuing these codes. We have a well-established and mature process for handing the six monthly Read code updates which ensures that they are integrated in a timely and safe manner. This latest update is going through this process and will be released to all EMIS sites by the end of the month.” 

A spokesman for INPS which supplies Vision systems told Pulse: ’The Read code: 67DJ. Term: “Informing patient of named accountable general practitioner” was included in the April 2014 release of the Read codes. The update of Read codes to Vision users is being piloted on some practices this week and we hope to distribute to all practices next week.’