GPs fear impact of CCG overhaul

GP leaders are lobbying MPs over fears that multi-million pound swings in CCG funding could force 'catastrophic' cuts and leave practices to plug the gap.

Dr Rae: Concerns that volatile CCG funding could harm patietn care
Dr Rae: Concerns that volatile CCG funding could harm patietn care

Pressure is mounting on NHS England to drop controversial proposals to overhaul the formula behind funding for CCGs.

The plans would increase weighting for age and reduce it for deprivation in CCG allocations, a move critics fear could transfer more money to CCGs in wealthier areas.

BMA council member and chief executive officer of Newcastle and North Tyneside LMC Dr George Rae met about 15 MPs representing Cumbria and north-east England last week to discuss concerns that the plans could harm patient care.

NHS England is expected to decide on changes to the CCG funding formula at a board meeting on 17 December.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has tabled a debate in the House of Commons urging NHS England to drop its plans.

The vote is likely to take place this month, before the crucial NHS England board meeting. The pace at which any changes to the formula will be introduced has not been decided, although they are likely to be introduced over a number of years.

However, Cumbria CCG, which would see its annual budget fall by £62m if the changes were implemented in full, warned the changes would have a 'catastrophic impact'.

Dr Rae said the meeting with MPs had been 'profitable'. But he added: 'We are really going to get the full brunt of the unfairness in our region.'

Cuts to services that CCGs commission would mean work 'rebounds' on GP practices, he said. Dr Rae added: 'Life expectancy in deprived areas is lower, so if you base a formula on age, you are creating a vicious cycle. It is the patients who will suffer and that is not acceptable.'

Current proposals to alter CCG allocations will create significant swings in income. Camden in north London could lose £75m from its annual budget - a 27% drop. But Dorset could receive a £68m (7%) boost.

The proposals were put forward by the independent Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation and applied to this year's allocations to show the scale of change needed.

Mr Burnham said it was 'immoral to raid NHS funding of communities with the poorest health to give it to more affluent areas'.

An NHS England spokeswoman said: 'Our duty is to serve the public and achieve the best possible health outcomes for people while getting value for money.'

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