By Russell Finn
This year’s Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body (DDRB) report has not yet been released, so this year’s GMS contract changes have been split into two. The first change will come into effect on 1st April; the second will probably follow in September and the exact details of the further uplift will be announced then.
As we have seen in many previous years, the GMS uplift of 3.4% has been designed to produce a 1% uplift in practice pay, but this time it has been coupled with an increase of 3% to cover the inflationary increase in expenses.
In the past, contract changes have failed to deliver the publicised increase, mainly due to expenses outstripping the increase allowed in the funding formula, but this year the NHS has listened to past recommendations made by the DDRB and provided a larger increase.
Other items included in the funding increase include:
• An increase to help with rising GP indemnity costs – however this will be nonrecurring
• An increase in the service rate for some vaccinations and immunisations from £9.80 to £10.06; these will include vaccinations such as Men B/C/ACWY, MMR etc., but Flu and Pneumo vaccinations, which contribute to the majority of this income, will remain at £9.80
• An increase in the value of a QOF point to £179.26 to take into account the changes in the population index; the average practice list size will now be 8,096, so the net effect will not be noticed
• An investment to recognise the work relating to the implementation of the E-Referral system; however, again this income will be nonrecurring
Following much in the news about changes to the reimbursement for locum costs, the maximum costs that can be reimbursed will only increase by 1%, which will disappoint many smaller practices that struggle to arrange cover.
Regarding the changes, other than the funding for service items and indemnity payments, the rest of the payments will be weighted using the Carr-Hill formula, which continues for another year with no revision, so as normal there will be winners and losers depending on each practice’s population demographic.
Overall, it does appear that more money will eventually find its way into general practice, but this will only start to offset the many years of real-term cuts that practices have had to endure.
By Russell Finn
Specialist Medical Accountant at Harold Sharp