£90,000 underpayment left London practices fearing closure

Underpayments worth tens of thousands of pounds left practices in south London fearing they could be forced to close this month, after an NHS England 'administrative error'.

Payment: NHS England error left practices thousands of pounds out of pocket
Payment: NHS England error left practices thousands of pounds out of pocket

GPs found payments for May were short by up to £90,000.

Chairman of Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth LMC Dr Marek Jarzembowski said he was aware of 13 local practices with a total underpayment of £930,000.

NHS England London region said it was aware of 53 practices affected by rent reimbursement under-payments totalling £280,000.

Dr Jarzembowski said that for some practices ‘these were sums of money that could be existential in nature and meant that they may have to resort to emergency loans’.

Emergency loan fears

‘I asked who would be responsible for the costs of setting loans up and interest payments. NHS England immediately said without any qualms that as long as it is properly documented, and could be demonstrated this was this error was the cause of needing those loans, then of course they would cover those  costs.’

NHS England said it was working to rectify the problem which was caused by an ‘administrative error’. It would set up a ‘recurring payment system’ to ensure future payments are correct.

A letter sent to practices by deputy head of primary care in south London, William Cunningham-Davis said: ‘NHS England received a number of queries regarding the May PMS contract payment from Merton practices, which were due to an error.

‘The finance team will be making a second payment this week and the money owed to your practice is expected to be on your bank account on Friday, 16th May but no later than Monday, 19th May.’

NHS England pledge

NHS England officials had ‘reacted reasonably well’, said Dr Jarzembowski, ‘as long as they carry through with their promises’.

But, he warned, practices had continued to suffer ongoing payment problems since NHS England took over responsibility for their funding.

‘It has been a mess and our view is it is likely to get worse when support services funding is reduced by 40%

‘NHS England is already proving itself to be having difficulties with administering all this stuff, and it is going to be even worse.’

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