Exclusive: GPs could face bank fines after confusion over payments

GP practices in Oxfordshire were forced to delay regular payments and could face bank fines after confusion over the transfer of GMS contract funding to their accounts last month.

A CCG has apologised after practices were told they would not receive critical payments usually due on the final day of May until 24 hours later.

Remittances were sent out saying GMS funding for some practices would appear in accounts on 1 June – causing panic for practices committed to regular payments due to go out on 31 May, including staff salaries and bills.

After raising concerns, practices did eventually receive funding on 31 May, but because the funds came through later than expected some were forced to delay regular outgoing payments.

Others fear they could still face bank fines for breaching overdrafts because payments went out before new funding had arrived.

GP funding

Confusion over payment could not have come at a worse time for practices, because many were expecting not only monthly GMS pay but also QOF achievement funding at the end of May.

John McGowan, practice manager at the Windrush Surgery, in Banbury, said that with annual quality payments added in, large practices could have expected payments worth six-figure sums on the last day of May.

'When we received the money in the afternoon of 31 May a lot of payments had gone out already,' he said. 'I had to delay standing orders and luckily the bank honoured some other payments.'

Some practices may not have been fortunate enough to avoid bank charges, Mr McGowan added.

An email from Oxfordshire CCG assistant chief financial officer Julia Boyce said: 'The CCG wish to apologise for the anxiety and extra work caused to practices by indicating that GMS payments would not be received by the correct date of 31 May.

GMS payment

'Remittances sent out to practices showed a date of 1 June for the receipt of funds whereas the correct date that funds were due into practice accounts was 31 May, and this was the date the funds were received. The CCG do not see remittances and were not aware of the issue until Friday [27 May].

'With hindsight it would have been helpful to send a communication to all practices on Friday to provide assurance that funds would be received as expected but unfortunately this was not done.'

The CCG said all payment dates for the remainder of the year had been double checked, and that evidence of financial losses incurred due to the payment date confusion should be sent to Ms Boyce.

Oxfordshire CCG told GPonline: 'The payments were made on the due date and there was no breach of contract.'

Part of the payment process is also governed by NHS Shared Business Services. A spokeswoman said: 'NHS Shared Business Services has a process in place that it  follows for GMS payments. As part of that process we ensure that we always take directions from our customers including agreement on the dates and times when payments are issued.'

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