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Practices face £31k gap in QOF funding next year, claims GPC

GPs face a £31,000 gap in QOF funding next year unless they work much harder under the Government’s proposed contract deal for 2013/14, the GPC has revealed.

In a warning letter to practices, GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman told GPs they should ‘look hard’ at their accounts and start planning so they can make ends meet next year.

The figures from BMA analysts show the average practice stands to lose £11,000 in QOF income under Government proposals for QOF thresholds to increase in line with the upper quartile of average current achievement, and achievement remains the same.

It also shows the average practice stands to lose £20,000 from the removal of the organisational points in QOF.

GPs will be able to earn back the money from this domain through new indicators introduced in QOF and a raft of new DES agreements.

But the GPC warned practices will not have time for the extra work, given that they are still expected to carry out much of the organisational work under CQC registration.

In a letter to practices sent out on Friday last week, Dr Buckman said that while the GPC is still awaiting confirmation from Government that they do intend to go ahead with imposing these changes on practices, but that they should start planning for the changes now.

He said: ‘The GPC is still waiting for confirmation of these changes but we know that practices need to understand now what is likely to happen to them so they can plan their services for next year and beyond.

‘If the Government’s plans do not change, and practices do not take on significantly more work, general practice could be seriously destabilised.’

The GPC has so far refused to negotiate with the Government on its proposals for the GP contract revealed last month, instead it is waiting for the DH to begin an official consultation with the BMA on the changes that is due to begin later this month and a DDRB assessment of GP pay next year.

Dr Buckman said that the threshold change alone is very likely to wipe out the DH’s proposed uplift in GP pay of 1.5%.

He said: ‘At this point we cannot assume there will be any additional investment in the contract at all…Although the Government’s proposals may yet be subject to change, now is the time to begin to plan for their impact.

‘In the coming months, all practices will need to look hard at their accounts and consider what changes will need to be made to make ends meet next year.’

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘Our proposed changes are not designed to remove any funding from primary care. Our aim is to drive up standards so all patients receive care consistent with that at the best performing practices.

‘Improving the quality of care we offer our patients is essential and GPs – like the rest of the NHS – must strive to meet new challenges and work in new ways. All money released from removing the basic organisational standards will still be available to practices who deliver improvements in patient care.’


For the average* practice:
Threshold changes - £11,000
Organisational points removal - £20,000
TOTAL QOF LOSS - £31,000
(*The average practice in England has 6,651 patients. Losses will of course vary according to practice circumstance and patient characteristics.)

Click here to read Dr Buckman’s full letter to practices