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Some GP practices should expect smaller funding increases, accountants warn

GP practices with a static list size can expect a 2.6% funding increase, rather than the 3.4% announced by the Government in England, accountants have predicted.

Luke Bennett, a director of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants (AISMA), said this is because ‘0.8% of the investment is to allow for the predicted increase in the population’. He said that ‘therefore, a practice with a static list size might reasonably expect an increase of not 3.4%, but 2.6%’.

Mr Bennett, a partner at accountancy firm PKF Francis Clark, said that funding increases will depend on practices’ individual characteristics and sources of income since different increases will be applied to different income streams.

In addition, Mr Bennett warned that GP practices could be affected by the Government’s decision to award nurses and other non-doctor NHS staff a 6% pay rise over three years.

He said: ‘Practices will have to fund increases in expenses out of the increased income. Significantly, the NHS pay deal agreed by union leaders and ministers on 21 March is likely to lead to increases in staff salaries, particularly at the lower end of the pay scales.’

‘While most practices are not contractually bound by the Agenda for Change pay rates, they are in many cases competing with secondary care to attract staff.’

Mr Bennett pointed out that ‘all practices will see some sort of increase in funding and this is to be welcomed as a measure to help maintain financial stability for struggling practices’.

And he added: ‘There may be a further uplift in funding once the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body has reported in May. It is hoped that the difficulties in recruiting and retaining GPs will be recognised in the DDRB report.’

The BMA’s evidence to the DDRB had called for a 2% funding uplift plus the value of the retail price index (currently around 4%).

The interim agreement reached to date with NHS Employers is intended to translate to a 1% pay uplift for GPs. NHS Employers has said the DDRB report is expected in May.