GP uses £8,300 from his pension fund to keep practice afloat

An Essex GP says he has been forced to take thousands of pounds from his pension fund to pay practice staff.

Dr John Cormack, who changed his name by deed poll last year to 'Dr John Cormack the family doctor who works for the NHS for free' in protest over poor funding, told GPonline he was forced to make the payment to avoid breaching a £25,000 practice overdraft limit and to be able to pay staff.

He transferred £8,299.65 into the practice account last month. A message to patients on the practice website says: 'We have been in a dire financial situation for over a decade – but somehow, with the help of the wonderful people who work here, we have managed to keep going.

'This month I’m having to pay £8299.65 of my pension into the practice account in order to keep the place ticking over. This is a lot more than a month’s worth of pension, needless to say. To keep our spirits up we fire off letters and emails from time to time to those running the NHS to acquaint them with the situation.'

GP practice funding

The South Woodham Ferrers GP believes his practice is among the worst funded in the NHS, receiving around £45 per patient. Dr Cormack has said previously his practice loses money each year, while other practices expect to make profits close to £100,000 per partner.

Data on payments to general practice from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) suggest the practice receives around £112 per patient, but Dr Cormack's accountant believes the figures are misleading.

Specialist medical accountant Elizabeth Lloyd, from Larking Gowan incorporating Hubbard Lloyd, said it was likely the HSCIC figures were inflated because they included late payments relating to previous financial years.

Dr Cormack says his single-handed practice received a poor MPIG settlement when the current GMS contract took effect in 2004 and has struggled ever since.

His wife Sue works as a practice manager at the practice, and he says they manage just a week off a year together because of the strain of administrative work and locum fees.

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