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NHS England sets up working group to solve GP payment issues

Exclusive NHS England has set up a GP payments working group to help solve the major problems with late payments since April which have forced some practices to take out overdrafts.

NHS England said it has set up a working group including representatives from NHS England’s finance team, the GPC, NHS Shared Business Services and IT service providers.

The group will meet on a regular basis to update NHS England on priorities around payment issues and has already been involved in a scheme to introduce more detailed remittance advice slips across the country in the next month.

The working group are also examining ways of improving the timeliness of payments made at the end of the month, the the process for changing bank details and the way public health payments are made by Public Health England and local authorities.

The news comes as Pulse revealed that the budget for payment support services has been slashed by £40m, according to leaked documents from NHS England.

Throughout this year Pulse has reported a string of issues with GPs receiving late or incomprehensible payments from CCGs, local area teams and other agencies. Some practices have been threatened with court summons to take their properties away, while others have been forced to take out overdrafts to manage cashflow problems.

The chair of the GPC’s practice finance subcommittee recently told Pulse the issues were ongoing, after his own practice was owed £50,000

Dr David Geddes, head of primary care commissioning at NHS England, said: ‘We are acutely aware that payment issues are creating cash flow problems and other difficulties for some GP practices and we are doing all we can to rectify this.

‘We have set up a GP payments working group and this is now focusing on priority action areas as identified by its members. The GPC has been very helpful in supporting this piece of work. In the meantime, if any practice is suffering with significant difficulties, please contact the area team who can discuss measures that can be taken to help.’

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ’To be fair to NHS England are taking this issue seriously. They’ve set up this working group to identify the issues with payments and where there are problems, to sort them out. This is imperative for practices.

‘This is part of longer term plans to streamline plans to make further savings. We will be concerned if they make changes that make the current problem worse. They should take their time to make sure payment systems are fit for purpose.’