Exclusive: GP funding bureaucracy 'killing general practice'

More than 9 out of 10 GP practices say too much bureaucracy is involved in claiming payments for services they deliver, a GP magazine poll reveals.

Bureaucracy: practices face hours of work chasing and claiming pay
Bureaucracy: practices face hours of work chasing and claiming pay

GPs and practice managers from hundreds of practices across England hit out at huge amounts of paperwork to claim income from many different organisations via different systems, hours spent chasing late payments and problems with cashflow as a result.

Respondents said the problems ‘may kill general practice’ because the unnecessary extra workload was having a ‘significant negative impact on patient care’.

The poll of more than 300 GPs and practice managers found that more than two thirds say support from NHS England’s area teams when they need to query payments is ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

Payment confusion

GP revealed last week that three quarters of respondents to the poll reported continuing confusion over payments, with practices unable to identify what payments they received related to.

A total of 46% of 310 GP partners and practice managers rated the support they receive from NHS England when they need to query a payment as ‘poor’. A further 24% said it was ‘very poor’.

One partner wrote: ‘The majority of time they can't tell us what the payment is for and my practice manager often makes 3-4 phone calls to various departments as she is passed from pillar to post. She spent more than an hour one day this week trying to identify one payment.’

Another said: ‘They are slow to respond and frankly don't know the answers on many occasions citing inadequate workforce as the reason.’

Delayed payments

A practice manager wrote: ‘Nice people but systems rubbish and many delayed payments which impact on cashflow.’

GPs and practice managers responding to the poll said bureaucracy had soared since the NHS reforms under the coalition government.

One GP wrote: ‘Much more complicated since the last NHS reorganisation.’

Another said: ‘The whole reason for removing PCTs was to improve NHS effectiveness, not to drown GPs in even more bureaucracy.’

Many respondents hit out at the multiple systems practices face for claiming pay from organisations including local councils, CCGs and NHS England. One respondent said her practice had to claim payments for enhanced services from four different organisations.

One practice manager said: ‘It’s a complete nightmare. Spend so much time chasing payments just to keep our income to enable us to employ our staff and not go under. It has a significant negative impact on patient care.’

GP reported on Monday that many practices were opting out of parts of the QOF and enhanced services because they could not cope with the additional workload.

NHS England had yet to comment at the time of publication.

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