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NHS England to ease payment confusion by end of the month

GP practices will receive statements giving a detailed breakdown of what payments are matched to what services by the end of this month, NHS England has said.

The statements are aimed at putting an end to eight months of payment chaos during which practices found it impossible to reconcile payments from NHS England with services provided.

It comes as LMC leaders in affected areas have anecdotally confirmed that all or nearly all practices in their areas have been hit by the problem - including practices receiving sums as large as £30,000 in their bank accounts without identification.

A Pulse survey this month found nearly half of English GPs reported problems with payments since the financial reorganisation last April.

The breakthrough comes after NHS England set up a GP payments working group including representatives from NHS England’s finance team, the GPC, NHS Shared Business Services and IT service providers.

A statement from NHS England said: ‘The GP Payments Working Group, which contains representation from the GPC and was set up to address these issues, has also taken work forward in a number of areas. In particular it has improved the information which support payments to GPs by amending the GP statement to break down in detail payments being made by NHS England and by CCGs.’

‘This will allow practices to recognise the breakdown of payments, the lack of which has been the most significant complaint reported.  This change has been piloted, and will be fully rolled out by the end of this month,’ it added.

In a recent interview with Pulse, NHS England’s head of primary care Dr David Geddes offered a ‘cast iron’ guarantee that all the issues would be cleared up within the next four months to enable GPs to prepare their year-end accounts.

Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC deputy chair and a member of the NHS England payments working group, said: ‘It’s certainly possible to sort this out by April 2014, but I would want it much sooner if possible. Practices need it sorted out now.’

Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs, said problems are continuing.

He said: ‘NHS England owes it to the taxpayer to sort this out quickly. We’ve had a couple of practices locally who found £30,000 in their bank account and didn’t know what it was for. Luckily they were able to work it out and some practices have actually given back money for work they’ve been paid for but haven’t done.’

Dr Brian Balmer, chair of Essex LMC, which compiled its own dossier reported by Pulse earlier in the year, said he expected all practices had been affected.

He said: ‘We had written comment or complaint from 50% a couple of months ago, and can assume this is only a sample. I would expect 100% to have had difficulties. It’s that bad.’

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