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Covid funding fails to hit the right note

Covid funding fails to hit the right note

Older readers will recall the fabled ‘Red Book’, aka the ‘Statement of Fees and Allowances’ for GPs. This tome was so huge, dense and arcane that few read it and fewer still understood it – so only a determined minority discovered the gems therein (such as the reimbursement for having your piano retuned if you moved house – FACT, as I believe younger readers say).

Eventually, it became so unwieldy as to be unfit for purpose. It was ushered out in 2004 as a new contract was ushered in. But I fear that, as usual, history is repeating itself.

Our LMC has just circulated a document summarising the various new payment streams available to help fund general practice during the current pandemic. This lists 15 separate channels of reimbursement, including some I’d never even heard of (I assume the ‘Covid Ambassador Fund’ is to pay for whoever hands out the Ferrero Rocher at the vaccination centre?).

Bear in mind that this 18-page document is merely a summary of the actual reimbursement guidance and covers only national – not local – initiatives. Bear in mind, too, that each payment stream will have different criteria, processes, systems, logins and so on, with guidance that will link to documents that will link to further guidance.

Indeed, I believe the time taken for practice managers to negotiate these various funding hurdles is, in itself, reimbursable, which is good, except that it means that many of them have been sucked into a claims vortex, never to be seen again.

Call me paranoid, stupid, or both, but by producing this new, virtual and impenetrable version of the Red Book, it’s almost as though NHS England don’t really want us to have this money. And there’s absolutely nothing in there about piano retuning.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Patrufini Duffy 9 March, 2021 10:03 pm

Yes, the claims vortex.
Like trying to login to your bank account with 5 passwords. You’ll eventually forget or give up. A masterclass in magic trickery by the institutes on distracted, tired PMs.

Hugo Hammersley 12 March, 2021 5:57 pm

I remember in 1984 successfully applying for reimbursement for the cost of shortening a pair of curtains – when moving house to become a GP Trainee. Quite remarkable! – especially as the curtains weren’t even made of plastic.
Tony has reminded me that my piano is now way out of tune. Perhaps NHSE should bring this allowance back to tempt us retired GPs back to the coalface – accompanied by rousing and tuneful piano melodies. On second thoughts, I think I’ll put up with a few flat notes and the short curtains.