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Funding uplift to be targeted at lower-funded practices, says DH

The Department of Health has withdrawn its offer of a 1.5% uplift from next April and said any funding rise from April next year for GPs will be targeted at those ‘with less funding per patient’.

In a letter to the GPC published today, a DH official said that they wanted to ensure ‘fair funding’ for GP practices and that applying any uplift equally across practices would not achieve this.

Instead it would look at applying any uplift through ‘other payments’, which could include QOF or DES payments.

The letter confirmed the 1.5% proposed uplift in GP pay was no longer on the table and it would wait for the recommendations from the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration before making a decision, as the BMA had called for.

But the Government said it was committed to honouring the 1% pay increase for GPs.

The DDRB is due to issue its report in mid- to late- February next year.

Richard Armstrong, DH head of primary care, wrote: ‘Applying equally an uplift for 2013/14 to all practices would not support movement towards fair funding, as those practices with highest funding levels would receive a higher cash uplift than practices that do not receive any Correction Factor payments (under MPIG). 

‘The Department therefore proposes to apply any uplift partly to global sum payments and partly to other payments, prioritising narrowing the funding gap between practices, while providing some uplift to all practices. 

‘We will make final decisions on the relative investment between practices in the light of the DDRB’s recommendations.’

Dr David Bailey, GPC Wales chair, said the commitment to a 1% funding rise was ‘window dressing’.  

He said: ‘The contract price may be uplifted but the DES, the workload involved and the extra costs in delivering that, even if GP practices can deliver it, the income uplift is unlikely to be anything near 1%.’

Dr Bailey welcomed the Government’s decision to wait for the DDRB recommendations before deciding on a pay uplift, but he questioned whether they would honour them.

He said: ‘The Government has a long history of interfering with DDRB recommendations.’