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RCGP chair criticises ‘unsound’ GP funding changes

By Lilian Anekwe

Ministers’ plans to impose a radical new funding formula on GP commissioning consortia and practices could widen health inequalities, the RCGP chair has warned.

Dr Clare Gerada hit out at the methodology being used by a DH-funded study looking at how to allocate funding under GP commissioning, and said basing funding on practice lists would be unfair to many practices.

Last week Pulse revealed researchers at the Nuffield Trust were working, on behalf of the DH, on a new ‘person-based, risk-adjusted resource allocation system’, which will be used to allocate a GP commissioning budget to each practice and consortia, based on patients’ predicted future use of NHS services.

The researchers speculated the formula could even replace the global sum formula for calculating practice funding, although the DH said this was ‘unlikely’.

But Dr Gerada told Pulse the new methodology was ‘unsound’.

‘We worry that as your entitlement is based on being on a GP list there will be patients who will lose out – for example travellers – but we are also worried that as the methodology won’t be sound, we will see widening health inequalities,’ she said.

‘I asked [Nuffield Trust director] Jennifer Dixon how does it work where you have a high patient turnover rate, where you have patients who aren’t registered, where you don’t have a stable population because patients can register anywhere, and how do you do it where you have any willing provider, and she accepted it would be difficult.’

Dr Clare Gerada