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Only fools (or ministers) rush in

I have long campaigned for the NHS to test its financial policy before imposing it but, for more than 20 years, the NHS has continued to stumble from one unnecessary financial crisis to another.

The new 2014 GP funding formula doesn't work, a conclusion an NHS accountant could have come to, given ten minutes and a calculator. So why has it has taken NHS England in London four months (into the first year of funding changes) to recognise that 98 outlier practices need rescuing?

The relief plan is a two-year suspension of the changes while a new funding formula is calculated. I have a radical idea. What about suspending all changes until a funding formula that works is found?

The suspension only applies to practices that will lose £3 per patient, per year, over the seven-year phasing out of MPIG. So a practice of 10,000 patients that was forecast to lose £210,000 under the new funding formula will be protected for two years; a practice located down the road losing £2.90 per patient (equating to £203,000) will receive no help. This is pernicious and, I feel, discriminatory.

Why don’t we splash out on a batch of up-to-date calculators and a few competent accountants for NHS England? Better still, let’s make a deal that we don’t make changes until we know the change works. This would be the best move but, for now, it is nothing but a pipedream.

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