Exclusive GPs are seeing cuts amounting to thousands of pounds each month in their early QOF payments due to the impact of the GP contract changes, causing cashflow problems and some to consider reducing their drawings.
Pulse has discovered that practices have begun receiving their first statements from local area teams, which have showed cuts in their ‘aspiration’ QOF payments, a result of the removal of most QOF organisational points by the Government.
Although practices can regain most of this money through the new direct enhanced services announced by the Government, this will not be until later in the year and GPs have told Pulse they have been taken completely by surprise by the size of the reductions.
This comes as practice managers complain of problems with irregular payments and problems with claiming for business rates and water bills.
QOF aspiration payments, which are made throughout the year in anticipation of practices achieving the same QOF points as the previous year, are meant to ease practice finances, but this year’s reduction is proving problematic.
Dr Kamal Sidhu, a GP in County Durham, said his practice has seen its cashflow reduced by £2,000 as a result of the changes, which has caused the practice problems.
He said: ‘Our practice manager noticed that the payments from QOF had gone down by about £2,000 per month for a practice of about 9,000 patients.
‘She brought this up at the practice managers’ group meeting and they have all noticed it, without any prior warning. There was no information given to practices about this.
‘This is a big problem for the feasibility of the cashflow issues, which means we might have to look at our monthly withdrawal figures.’
QOF expert Dr Gavin Jamie, a GP in Swindon, said monthly payments have been reduced. He said: ‘Our figures have gone down but this is due to the cut in the number of points in QOF from 1000 to 900, the other 100 points having been taken off for the DESs. Aspiration payments have been cut by 10% to adjust for that.
‘Hopefully some of the DES payments will be made quarterly to try to help the cash flow situation.’
GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘It depends on how the DES payments are going to be paid. Clearly there will be less resource, which is what we have been saying over the past few months… The whole value of QOF has gone down, so this was inevitable.’