CCG opens £400,000 bail-out package to all GMS practices

A £400,000 bailout deal in east London which could wipe out MPIG losses will be open to all GMS practices in the area, commissioners have announced.

Save our Surgeries campaigners protesting over cuts to funding because of the withdrawal of MPIG last year
Save our Surgeries campaigners protesting over cuts to funding because of the withdrawal of MPIG last year

As revealed exclusively by GPonline last week Tower Hamlets CCG in east London secured agreement from NHS England to access a so-called headroom fund.

The borough is one of the most deprived in the country and has been badly hit by the withdrawal of MPIG correction factor.

Practices have led a campaign against the cuts since 2014. Local campaigners described the agreement, which followed meetings with health ministers in recent months, as an ‘extraordinary victory’.

CCG chief officer Jane Milligan said today: ‘Following the announcement last week about the agreement reached with NHS England for a local scheme to support Tower Hamlets GP practices with additional workload, NHS Tower Hamlets CCG  has agreed with NHS England the criteria to be applied and have written out to GP practices today.  

‘The scheme is open to all GMS practices and we hope to complete the application process within six weeks, providing the practices can supply all of the necessary information to support their application’.

The criterea for the two-year locally commissioned service replicate those used for the previous NHS England bailout deal but without limiting support only to those with loses above £3 per patient. 

To be eligible for support practice must have at or greater than 63%, no partner with pensionable earnings over £106,000, no contract breaches since 2013, over half of contract holders must have no live performer or GMC cases, and fewer than five outliers on the GP High Level Indicators system.

As revealed by GPonline the funding for the package will come from a little-known ‘headroom fund’ worth more than £100m, held by all NHS England area teams. This is despite GPs having been previously told there is no additional money available to help them.

The non recurrent headroom fund amounts to 1% of primary medical services funding in an area. NHS England London has agreed to transfer that money, which for Tower Hamlets amounts to £407,000, to the CCG, which has delegated co-commissioning powers.

Save Our Surgeries campaigner Virginia Patania, a CCG board member and managing partner at the Jubilee Street practice, told GPonline last week: ‘I am hoping it will cover anyone who has tangibly felt any type of loss over the past year.’

A three-year MPIG support package launched by NHS England London in 2014 - later adopted across England - was offered only to so-called outlier practices which faced losses over £3 per weighted patient. But that deal came under intense criticism from GPs who claimed they had been unfairly excluded.

Local NHS England officials admitted that they had used incorrect data to calculate the losses of two practices. Others claimed their losses had been underestimated.

GPs from Limehouse Practice warned last month they were at risk of closure after a projected seven-year loss of over £600,000 and a 20% fall in partners’ share of profits led to staff losses and recruitment problems.

Tower Hamlets GPs and practice staff have led a London-wide campaign against funding cuts, which began after the Jubilee Street practice announced in 2014 that it faced imminent closure because of predicted MPIG losses totalling £900,000.

Following a campaign of protests and lobbying NHS England agreed the section 96 financial support package last summer, but just 17 practices nationally out of 98 outliers were initially offered support. Jubilee Street was the only practice in Tower Hamlets helped with its losses.

East London GPs have maintained the pressure on officials and politicians to come up with a more comprehensive support package, meeting NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens and health secretary Jeremy Hunt in recent months. The new agreement follows a visit by new primary care minister Alistair Burt to Limehouse Practice last month.

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