GP practice wins £27,000 for vaccination payments disputed by NHS England

NHS England has been forced to pay £27,000 to a GP practice in Derbyshire that won an appeal over a disputed payment for childhood immunisations.

Vaccination (Photo: iStock)
Vaccination (Photo: iStock)

NHS England had refused to pay £27,000 for childhood immunisation work carried out by the Littlewick Medical Centre because the practice claimed reimbursement through the now-defunct manual NHS system rather than the current 'Open Exeter' system.

The practice said that when the claim was made, the change in systems had not been communicated clearly, but NHS England argued that the manual system was no longer valid and under the statement of financial entitlement commissioners could not authorise late claims.

However, lawyers paid for by the GP Defence Fund won an appeal through the Family Health Services Appeal Unit (FHSAU), forcing NHS England to pay the practice in full.

Cashflow

Senior partner at the Littlewick Medical Centre Dr Gail Walton told GPonline that the delay in receiving such a significant sum had affected cashflow at the practice, and left the partners considering whether they could maintain the childhood immunisation service.

'The money that practices receive for giving immunisations funds the salary of those giving them,' she said. 'If a significant amount of work that has already been delivered is not remunerated the feasibility of ongoing provision has to be questioned.'

Derby and Derbyshire LMCs chief operating officer David Gibbs said that the LMC had decided to challenge the non-payment for two key reasons.

Payment

'The practice hadn't been made aware sufficiently robustly [of the change in payment systems], and secondly, there was an element of principle - there was no doubt the practice had done the work, and since they had, they should be paid for it.'

He urged any other practice in a similar position to contact NHS England and quote the FHSAU ruling over the Littlewick case.

An NHS England (North Midlands) spokesperson said: 'While we respect the decision, NHS England has not changed its position in relation to management of childhood vaccines and immunisation claims. The General Medical Services Direction clearly states that commissioners are unable to authorise any late submission of claims and GP practices are responsible for submitting them in a timely way. We continue to manage all claims in accordance with the directions.'

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