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GPs advised to cut drawings over next few months

Exclusive GPs have been advised to cut their drawings now amid an uncertain few months as the QOF changes bed in and they decide what income they can ‘win back’ from the new directed enhanced services.

The GPC has warned of ‘huge uncertainty’ over the next few months as the QOF changes bed in and practices try to gain agreement from CCGs on their quality and productivity indicators and the risk-profiling and remote-care DESs.

The publication of the business rules for the 2013/14 QOF by the Health and Social Care Information Centre has been welcomed by GPs, but LMC leaders have warned that IT providers are not expected to get the revamped systems off the ground for months yet, resulting in additional workload for practices.

It comes after GPs were warned to make contingency plans to protect their cash-flow this month, as LMC leaders warned many of the local area teams that have assumed responsibility for GP contracts this week face ‘huge problems’ and a lack of capacity to carry out their job effectively.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said the situation is causing ‘huge anxiety’ to GPs, who also face uncertainty over how much income they can ‘win back’ from the scrapped portions of QOF by taking on the four new DESs.

He said: ‘The risk-profiling and remote-care DESs need CCG involvement. Some of the QP indicators require input from local authorities [and] if they are in anyway linked to risk profiling, social services will need to be involved too.’

Devon LMC chair Dr Mark Sanford-Wood said that practices would have to enter in their QOF details manually after IT systems have caught up.

He told Pulse: ‘The fact that it generates additional work means that you lose money. You have to perform a mid-year data update, and if the transfer is not accurate you lose more money.’

Accountants said it was impossible to estimate how much GPs could stand to lose over the next couple of months but have advised GPs to budget for a 5-10% profit drop during the year and reduce drawings now so as to not have to pay money back at the end of the year.

Rosemary Smith, senior partner at RS Medical Accountancy, said: ‘Our GP clients are reducing their monthly drawings by around £250 to £500. Our advice is that if you can pull the belt in now it is safer, as income streams are more uncertain.’

The Department of Health decided to impose their contract terms on GPs for 2013/14 but only announced the final contract details towards the end of last month.

QOF expert Dr Gavin Jamie, a GP in Swindon, said the QOF business rules were largely as expected while there was some good news in terms of workability of the new codes, especially with regards with the new NICE-recommended depression indicators.

He said: ‘There is some good news that the bio-psychosocial assessment in depression has only one code which will make things simpler for practices.

‘There are quite a lot of new codes for other new indicators such as excercise assessment but again these have a reasonably amount of logic to them.’

Pulse Live: 30 April - 1 May, Birmingham

You can find out more about how to protect your earnings at Pulse Live, Pulse’s new two-day annual conference for GPs, practice managers and primary care managers. Richard Apps, partner at RSM Tenon, will be presenting a session on how to maximise your practice income and keep an eye on your cash flow.

Pulse Live offers practical advice on key clinical and practice business topics, as well as an opportunity to debate the future of the profession, and a top range of speakers includes NICE chair designate Professor David Haslam, GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey and the Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell MP, chair of the House of Commons health committee.

To find out more and book your place, please click here.