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GP practice management news round-up: 3 November 2015

Medeconomics' round-up of recent news that affects your business. This week: practices face CQC fee rise, plans to cut GP bureaucracy, notional rent reviews and GPES 'misspent public money'.

Practices face seven-fold increase in CQC fees by 2017/18

GP practices could be hit by a seven-fold increase in CQC fees by 2017/18 under radical plans proposed by the watchdog to claw back its full chargeable costs from providers.
        
CQC fees for a GP practice with 5,000-10,000 registered patients that operates at one location must rise from £725 to £4,839, the watchdog has said. This could happen over two years – by 2017/18 – or over four years.

The DH has pledged a £15m funding boost for GPs in 2016/17 intended to mitigate the rising costs practices will face, although officials are not yet able to confirm whether further funding will be made available in subsequent years.

Hunt to free up 14m GP appointments and create a unified GP payment system

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has confirmed plans to cut bureaucracy in general practice and liberate millions of appointments wasted on re-referring patients who miss hospital visits, but has faced criticism over plans for a new CCG-level NHS ratings system.

Speaking at the annual Health Service Journal lecture in London, the health secretary set out a four-point NHS England plan to free up GP time and increase capacity by ending re-referrals to hospitals and creating a unified GP payments system.

The revamped GP payments system will bring together all practice transactions, reducing the bureaucracy of chasing income from multiple organisations. Many practices report significant problems with chasing payments from multiple organisations, while the BMA says 14m GP appointments a year are wasted on re-referring patients to hospital.

Legal ruling forces NHS England U-turn over GP rent appeals

NHS England has been forced to back down over practices' right to appeal changes to notional rent after 'landmark' rulings by the NHS Litigation Authority.

The litigation authority ruled that NHS England failed to communicate and co-operate locally with a view to resolving valuation disputes with five practices as required by regulations, and that it could not impose a timeframe on practices to dispute changes to rent arrangements.

NHS England attempted to impose a three-month deadline for practices to challenge changes to rent reimbursements, but the watchdog said commissioners could no longer do this.

Practices should instead be allowed the three-year window allowed by the GMS contract to appeal against decisions, the litigation authority said.

Experts said the case would ensure practices are given a fair timescale to appeal reimbursement changes.

Flawed GP data extraction system 'misspent public money'

A government IT system that collects data from GP practices across England was signed off despite being demonstrably flawed from day one and 'not fit for purpose', MPs heard.

The DH admitted at a House of Commons public accounts committee hearing that public money had been ‘misspent’ on the General Practice Extraction Service (GPES) IT system, which came in four times over budget and cost the taxpayer £60m.

Representatives from the DH, the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) – which runs GPES after inheriting it from the NHS Information Centre in 2013 – and Atos, the IT company that designed part of the system, were grilled by MPs at the inquiry.

The inquiry was held after a report from the National Audit Office (NAO) released in July found that the GPES IT system was ‘flawed, delayed and over budget’.

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