AQP paperwork unfair on GPs

GP practices face up to 40 hours of paperwork to be approved to offer services under the Any Qualified Provider (AQP) policy, the BMA has said.

GP practices face having to do up to 40 hours paperwork to gain approval as AQP service providers
GP practices face having to do up to 40 hours paperwork to gain approval as AQP service providers

The BMA warned competition regulator Monitor that it is 'extremely risky' for practices to go through the process of becoming an AQP provider.

Responding to a wide-ranging review of general practice by the regulator, the BMA argued that it may be 'entirely appropriate' for CCGs to buy services from practices without a tendering process.

Before practices can bid to offer specific services under the AQP policy, they must apply to become a qualified AQP provider.

But the BMA warned that AQP contracts offer 'no guaranteed income' for GP practices. AQP services are not paid for on a capitation basis, meaning practices may face competition from many other providers offering the same service.

The BMA has warned that smaller practices will be less willing to risk investing the time and resources to become an AQP provider.

Even though larger practices are growing in numbers, 'this increase has been steady rather than dramatic, leaving most practices with GMS and PMS contracts at a competitive disadvantage when bidding for these contracts', the BMA warned.

Many practices are not yet in a position to work with others as part of a federation to bid for AQP contracts, 'partly due to a lack of capacity and resource', it added.

Monitor is due to publish the responses to its GP consultation next month, ahead of recommendations due next year.

City and Hackney LMC chairwoman Dr Deborah Colvin said that slashing competition in the NHS would free up more money for investment in services.

'I would like Monitor to say that competition is a waste of NHS money,' she said.

'It is an outrage to fund competition rather than improving services. CCGs should be allowed to make sensible decisions in patients' interests, rather than dance to laws with profit in mind rather than health outcomes.'

Dr Colvin is head of City and Hackney Urgent Healthcare Social Enterprise, which won a bid to deliver out-of-hours services in the area.

She said her advice to other GPs wanting to provide additional services would be 'you can do it'.

'You can do it but you have to be prepared to put in a lot of unpaid time and energy and you have to think it is worth it,' she said.

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