GP practices with poor access to lose money

Posted on July 1, 2009. Filed under: GP-led health centres, News stories |

OnMedica Staff | 30 June 2009

General practices whose patients say that their access arrangements are not up to scratch are to lose thousands of pounds each. telephone unhappy.jpg

Practices will be penalised if their patients gave negative responses to questions about access in the GP Patient Survey, published in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Under the new rules an average practice of three GPs could lose £7,000 and larger practices up to £25,000.

The BMA has criticised linking practice income to the survey, because usually only a small minority of patients complete the survey, as a result the results can be skewed towards the views of a particularly disgruntled minority.

In addition, practice income is linked to access rather than patient satisfaction overall. Only two of the 49 questions in the survey influence income – whether the patient could book an appointment within 48 hours and if they could book in advance.

If less than 60% of responses to the two questions were positive the practice loses all 58.5 points on offer in the quality and outcomes framework, the equivalent of £7,300 for the average surgery.

Laurence Buckman, chairman of the British Medical Association GPs committee, said: “We are not defending people who are not very good, but a large number of practices in England will be adversely hit and in many cases unfairly hit.

“The penalties are going to range from tiny to huge. I don’t think patients realised that when they filled in the survey.

“In some cases the answers of fewer than a couple of dozen patients will have led to a practice losing thousands of pounds in resources. Ironically this will make it harder for these surgeries to then improve their access, which is not going to benefit patients.”

Results for the 2008-09 GP Patient Survey show that overall 84% of patients said they were able to get an appointment within 48 hours and 76% were able to book an appointment further in advance if they wanted one.

Practices can appeal to their PCT if it believes a limited response to the survey may have influenced the result.

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