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Now you see it, now you don’t

I suppose the writing was on the wall – albeit in very small letters and possibly with invisible ink – when NHS England stated that it was not expecting all practices to claim for expenses from the Covid reimbursement fund for extra care-home costs related to the pandemic. After all, when did Covid ever affect nursing homes?

This feeling was reinforced when we heard that NHSE would ‘fully pass through to practices the funding the Government has agreed to make available to them to meet their reasonable additional costs incurred as a result of the pandemic’ while at the same time it announced that the fund was limited, thereby cleverly defying some basic rules of maths, physics and economics.

So I really shouldn’t have been surprised by the email I received the other day from our local finance team about our claim for Covid reimbursement. It kicked off by stating, with admirable candour, that it’s very unlikely that we’ll get what we asked for.

After all, when did Covid ever affect nursing homes…?

So why would that be? Well, for a start, they’re waiting for further guidance about PPE reimbursement – which is at least consistent in that we’re having to wait for the dosh about as long as we had to wait for the PPE.

Oh, and IT costs are the subject of negotiation between NHSE and the CCG, and they’ll let us know that outcome of that particular arm-wrestle whenever. What else… yeah, staff costs, well they’re quite complex, so they need a bit more time to work through them… and building adjustments, hmm, actually they should be claimed from Premises Estates.

Which makes me think that we’re going to be reimbursed precisely nothing. But at least that nothing will come quickly – NHSE points out that it’s taken on this piecemeal approach because they want to help our cashflow, so that’s nice. Though a bolded out para makes it clear that £0 reimbursement may be clawed back if we don’t submit the relevant forms, tick the appropriate boxes and resubmit within a deadline of last week when they lose the originals.

As I say, I shouldn’t be surprised. And I’m not. Because we’ve come a long way though the Covid crisis – specifically, from a battle cry that all expenses would be covered to these weaselly worded evasions- and what we’ve learned is that this is exactly what we should expect.

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