Corporate predators could use NHS data to target GP practices for takeover

Predatory private companies could use practice funding data made public last week to target GP practices in an asset-stripping exercise, accountants have warned

Funding: data could be used to target practices
Funding: data could be used to target practices

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) published details of total funding - showing income from global sum, MPIG correction factors, enhanced services, premises income and other elements of pay - for each GP practice in England.

This is the first time this level of data on practice funding has been made public, and is a first step towards greater transparency over GP income ahead of plans for all practices in England to publish the average amount GPs earn at their practice from April 2016.

GP practice resources

Laurence Slavin, a partner at specialist medical accountants Ramsay Brown and Partners, said: 'I can't believe patients would be interested in, or frankly understand this information. It doesn't tell you the earnings of individual doctors, just resources for the practice.'

He warned that the main benefit could be to 'predatory businesses' interested in targeting practices to swallow up and strip assets from.

'You could use this to work out which practices were worth merging with or taking over. If you were a predatory business, you could say: "We'll go after the practices receiving over £200 per patient - not the ones on £100 per patient",' said Mr Slavin.

He added: 'They could then sack some GPs and staff, provide a reduced service and keep the money coming in for as long as possible.'

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