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One in five care homes claim to be ‘overcharged’ by GP practices



A survey of care home managers has suggested one in five feel they were ‘overcharged’ by GP practices for their services.

GP practices sometimes charge retainer fees for providing services to care homes which go above and beyond the core GMS contract.

But a survey of 285 care homes in England found that managers feel GP practices are charging them for services that would be free to patients not living in care homes.

The Alzheimer’s Society, which carried out the investigation, said: ’[O]ne in five care homes surveyed are being wrongly charged by GP practices for services that should be free on the NHS – up to as much as £36,000 a year.’

It said that the total cost of GP charges to care homes is estimated to exceed £26 million a year, at an average of £12,191 per care home.

The charity added: ’The money that care homes are spending on GP services – that are free on the NHS to all those living in the community – could be much better spent on one-to-one care for people with dementia.’

But, responding to the report, the RCGP said the ’current funding to provide a quality GP service to these patients is extremely challenging for many practices’.

It added that it was ’within the prerogative of an individual care home to arrange services for their patients’ that are not covered by NHS contracts.

RCGP honorary secretary Professor Nigel Mathers said: ‘We need better co-ordination of approaches for referral, assessment, and treatment across the boundaries of primary, secondary and social care – including care homes – so that we can improve the services, and access to services, that will help patients with dementia to live healthy, independent and productive lives for as long as possible.’

Last year Care England annunced care homes would stop paying retainer fees for GP services but GP leaders pointed out that practices paid to be retained by a care home under enhanced services were ‘going the extra mile’ and that providers were often overestimating what practices should be expected to deliver.

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