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Pioneering GP consortia create ‘risk-pools’ to prevent overspends

By Alisdair Stirling

Exclusive: GP consortia are taking the first steps towards financial risk pooling by agreeing to share risk ‘like a bank', Pulse has learned.

A federation of six GP consortia in the northeast have drawn up a agreement to top-slice their commissioning budgets to provide a fund that can be used to bail out any overspends.

The agreement, by GPs in Durham Dales, Darlington, Easington, Derwentside and Durham, Sedgefield and Chester le Street consortia, will allow any consortium that overspends within a financial year to have that overspend covered by the others, giving them a further year to repay the funds.

Dr Stewart Findlay, a GP in Bishop Auckland and chair of the County Durham and Darlington Federation pathfinder, said: ‘It will work like a bank. We'll top slice our budgets and have a risk-pool fund that can be called down if needed. If one consortium overspends over the year, we´ll effectively bail them out.'

‘The underlying financial situation is good at the moment, but this gives us some security as regards the financial risk.'

Dr Findlay said the federation arrangement also allowed back-office functions to be shared.

Dr David Jenner, a GP in Devon and contract lead for the NHS Alliance, predicted the NHS Commissioning Board was likely to top-slice all consortia budgets to provide a central risk-pooling arrangement in due course – but said local schemes were a good interim measure.

‘It´s a wise move if you're small and you want to get approval. But it's clear as crystal to me that the board will have the power and the will to insist on this happening centrally and to top-slice budgets to make it happen.'

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