NHS England has said that the final specification for the unplanned admissions DES – set to count for more than £20,000 of funding for the average GP practice this financial year – will be published ‘in the next few days’.
It has previously released a document with guidance on the DES, however NHS England has confirmed that this was not the full specification and that this is still pending.
Guidance and audit requirements issued with the contract say that ‘practices will be required to use the relevant Read 2 and CTV3 codes as published in the supporting business rules on the HSCIC website’ and also direct GPs to the NHS Employers website to obtain these.
However, the codes remain unavailable at either location, forcing practices to keep a separate log of their work in relation to the DES in order to prove what they have been doing.
Dr Robert Morley, executive secretary of Birmingham LMC said: ‘I haven’t had any specific local complaints but some codes are not available yet. Also, area teams haven’t produced the paperwork for practices to sign up to.’
Dr David Jenner, a GP in Cullompton, Devon and GP contract lead for the NHS Alliance said: ‘It’s a national problem. The guidance only came out on 2 April and this has been changed once.
‘The codes are not available on SystmOne for us to use now, so we’re having to use proxy codes. It’s an absolute mess – and looks like being a bureaucratic nightmare.’
But GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said finalising the specification was a formality.
He said: ‘This is the formal specification which does not differ from the information that practices already know about. However, the issue relating to the Read codes is separate. Practices should not wait for these but will need to add them to a patient’s records once they are available, which I hope will be as soon as possible.’
A spokesperson for NHS England said: ‘We hope to finalise the specification with the BMA in the next few days.’
The DES has replaced the QOF ‘quality and productivity’ domain and last year’s risk-profiling DES as part of the new GP contract. It involves GPs providing telephone access to advise on hospital transfers or admissions, case-managing vulnerable patients and reviewing unplanned admissions and re-admissions.
However, around one in seven GPs will refuse to take it on amid fears that it is too bureaucratic, according to a Pulse survey unveiled earlier this week.
Last week Pulse reported that practices are having to keep paper lists of patients that have been informed of their ‘named GP’, under the new contractual requirement, because Read codes had not been put in place by software companies yet.