Exclusive: Breakthrough MPIG support came from £100m NHS England headroom fund

Funding secured in east London to cover MPIG losses could be available to practices elsewhere, GPonline has learned.

Funding: MPIG support came from headroom fund worth more than £100m (Photo: JH Lancy)
Funding: MPIG support came from headroom fund worth more than £100m (Photo: JH Lancy)

As reported exclusively on Tuesday, a groundbreaking bailout deal agreed between Tower Hamlets CCG and NHS England London, hailed as an 'extraordinary victory' by campaigners, could write of MPIG losses in the borough for two years.

GPonline has now learned that the money allocated will come from a little-known ‘headroom fund’ worth more than £100m, held by NHS England area teams. This is despite GPs having been previously told there is no additional money available to help them.

The non recurrent headroom fund amounts to 1% of primary medical services funding in an area. NHS England London has agreed to transfer that money, which for Tower Hamlets amounts to £407,000, to the CCG. Tower Hamlets CCG, which has delegated co-commissioning powers, is understood to be finalising details and criteria for how the money will be distributed.

MPIG support package

Local GPs and campaigners hope it will support those struggling practices which were unable to benefit from the national MPIG support package which applied only to those deemed to be losing over £3 per patient.

The 1% headroom fund is held by all NHS England area teams and can be made available to commissioners ‘for investment in transformational change in primary care’, a spokeswoman for NHS England London said.

The funding has been available to area teams in previous years and is included within the national business rules for NHS England, funded within the primary care funding allocation.

Primary care funding

The fund is equal to 1% of NHS England's total primary care allocation, worth around £12bn. For delegated co-commissioners, the fund is 1% of their delegated budget for primary medical services and is retained by NHS England to be accessed by the CCG.

A spokeswoman for Tower Hamlets CCG said: ‘The proposal submitted by the CCG addresses the local needs of the population by recognising the additional workload of meeting these needs beyond essential and additional services. NHS England supports the proposal and will transfer the monies to the CCG.’

Dr Fiona Sanders, LMC chairwoman in neighbouring Hackney, where 14 practices face heavy MPIG losses, told GPonline she had not been previously aware this funding was held by NHS England teams. ‘They keep this very quiet,' she said.

‘It is certainly something I probably will raise and see if we can think about it’, she added. 

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