An opportunity to abolish correction factor

The GMS global sum review team have unveiled their bright and spanking new Carr-Hill formula, guaranteed to distribute funding more fairly in the future.

Putting aside the information that Scotland and Northern Ireland might have to wait an extra year for their version of the new calculation, some fundamental issues still remain with the new formula.

The revised formula is merely a better way to slice the primary care funding cake.

The basic premise that an average of £54, or thereabouts, per patient is not sufficient to fund core GP services remains, however you share those individual pounds out.

That's why we have the MPIG and its contingent correction factors.

Sharing out the pot differently will shift the distribution of winners and losers as well as funds, but it will not do away with the necessity of correction factors. Which is why the notion that the MPIG should be reviewed separately is a fallacy.

Actually there is a bigger fallacy - the insistence in some quarters that the MPIG and the funding it brings is somehow separate from the global sum.

In fact practices' true global sums are made up of their Carr-Hill allocation plus correction factor and it is time that everyone admitted this and the DoH ended its unreasonable hope that the MPIG can be ended at a stroke and with no cost.

The formula review does, however, offer an opportunity to end the current correction factor situation.

Those behind the review, or at least the mathematical brains being used to model the new formula, should recalculate the average amount per patient if the global sum and MPIG pots were added together.

Then it would be possible to work out every practices' potential global sum under the new revised formula.

If the new formula works this should provide an accurate distribution of funds. And if some practices' core funding does fall below their initial global sum equivalent, it will be possible to calculate by how much the global sum has been historically underfunded.

This plan may not provide a perfect solution and some method of offering a correction factor may continue to be necessary, but without examining this option how are we to truly evaluate the new formula and assess the realities of primary care funding. Anything else allows the DoH pretence that the MPIG is temporary funding and that adequate investment has been made in the global sum to persist and that can never be a secure policy for practices.

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