Magazine article Public Finance

Payment Systems at Fault for Lack of GP Access

Magazine article Public Finance

Payment Systems at Fault for Lack of GP Access

Article excerpt

A new set of financial levers is needed to persuade GP practices to tackle health inequalities and improve service quality, the NHS Confederation said this week.

The recent renegotiation of the general medical services contract (which covers most GPs) focused on extending opening times. However, improving general practice does not begin and end with opening hours, the confederation warns in a briefing paper.

Access all areas says that millions of people have undiagnosed conditions or are unable to access the services they need. Existing payment systems are at least partly to blame, the paper says.

It calls for the abolition of the GP minimum practice income guarantee to remove barriers to tackling health inequalities. The MPIG was introduced in 2003, when the GP contract was revised, to ensure practices did not lose income under the new contract. However, about 95% of GP practices still receive payments under the MPIG at a cost of around ?600m a year. GPs in deprived areas tend to receive less than those in more affluent ones.

The MPIG gives GPs no incentive to extend their patient lists because they would always be paid a minimum amount, the paper says. …

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