Bulletin 23.02.2016

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Bulletin 23.02.2016

GP Contract 16/17
The GP Contract for 16/17 has finally been announced. In what is possibly one of the latest negotiated contract  announcements it is reassuring that the changes are far fewer than in previous years and are in keeping with the key Special Conference resolutions; to minimise the disruption of annual contract changes to practices and that the reimbursement of GP expenses must be properly funded. The agreement in no way detracts from the GPC’s mandate to hold the government to account with an ultimatum to deliver a rescue package for general practice but it does provide for increased core resources and reimbursement of expenses to an extent not achieved in recent years, and should help support practice financial pressures. The headline agreed changes are:

  • A £220m investment of new funding in the contract – more than double that last year – and seven times greater than in 2014/15
  • Recognition of GP expenses, which for the first time has taken account of individual components that include rises in Care Quality Commission (CQC) fees, indemnity costs, national insurance contributions, superannuation and increased utility and other charges
  • An intended 1% net pay uplift
  • A 28% increase in vaccination and immunisation fees from £7.64 to £9.80
  • Ending of the imposed dementia enhanced service, therefore reducing the workload and bureaucracy of this flawed scheme, and with resources going into global sum
  • No new clinical workload requirements and no changes to QOF indicators or thresholds
  • A commitment from NHS England to explore a national strategy to manage demand through self-care and appropriate signposting of patients to services
  • A commitment to explore ending QOF and the Avoiding Unplanned Admissions enhanced service in 2017/18

Full details on the new contract and FAQs are available here.

VAT & Working for CCGs
We strongly recommend practices take time to consider this guidance and practices and doctors should obtain professional advice. The BMA, GPC and GPDF are unable to give individual taxation advice.

GPDF has sought advice on the VAT position of GPs working for CCGs. This guidance has been drafted by a VAT specialist at Greenback Alan LLP. In its covering letter Greenback Alan’s specialist states the following:

  • The VAT liability in the notes was agreed with Mr. M Barlow of HM Revenue a Customs, NHS team and can now be issued to GPs. If any of the GPs have any questions, they should discuss these with their present advisors.
  • I would stress that GPs should now check whether or not they are required to register for VAT. Any belated VAT registration could be subject to a penalty. However, Mr. Barlow stated that he would deal with this issue and intervene if any penalties are levied. I would suggest that any belated VAT registration applications are submitted within the next few months.
  • If however, after receiving the guidance notes a GP does not check their VAT position and are subsequently subject to an HMRC inspection, penalties will automatically be applied and Mr. Barlow may not be able to assist.
  • Finally, if VAT is due to HMRC, I do not foresee any problems in a GP requesting time to pay pending payment of the VAT from the CCG.

Disability Living Allowance
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is ending for people who were born after 8 April 1948 and are aged 16 or over. GPs will be asked to provide further medical evidence in the normal way for DLA claimants for individuals who decide to claim PIP. GPs may receive enquiries from patients currently on DLA who have received a letter or heard that the DLA is ending.

DWP is writing to DLA claimants to ask if they wish to make a claim for Personal Independence Payment. A DLA is ending advert is being shown via screens in GP surgeries and hospitals. This advert is to raise awareness that DLA is ending and to make sure that patients in receipt of DLA know what to do next. The advert is being shown in over 1,500 sites across England, Scotland and Wales. It will run until 4 March. Further details on DLA ending and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is available here.

Referral System of Medical Suitability of Gun Owners
A safer system for firearms licensing is being introduced from 1 April to improve information sharing between GPs and police and to reduce the risk that a medically unfit person may have a firearm or shotgun certificate.

  • Police will ask every firearm applicant’s GP if the patient suffers from specific health issues, such as depression or dementia.
  • GPs will be asked to place a firearm reminder code on the patient’s record. This means the GP will know the person is a gun owner, and they can inform the police licensing department if the patient’s health deteriorates after the gun licence is issued.
  • New guidance will be published to help GPs and police operate the new system. Responsibility for deciding if a person is suitable to hold a firearm certificate remains with the police.

At present, the police usually only contact an individual’s GP before the issue of the certificate if the applicant has declared a relevant medical condition. After the certificate is granted there is no reminder system to inform the GP that the patient they are seeing is a gun owner. The new system was developed after the BMA raised concerns about weaknesses in the current process with the Home Office. It has been developed by the BMA, RCGP and the police, in conjunction with shooting associations and the Information Commissioners Office.

Workforce Data Collection
All practices should now have received this letter which provides background on the role of the workforce minimum data set collection and includes details on the upcoming March 2016 collection of data by the HSCIC, including the steps that GP practices need to take now to prepare.

CQRS Update for Friends & Family Test
All practices should have received an email regarding the Friends and Family Test submissions via CQRS. Recent changes include the addition of a cut off date so after the 12th working day practices will not be able to enter data, practices can amend data until the cut off date and the introduction of a safeguard which ensures the data cannot be submitted into an incorrect month. It is a contractual obligation to submit the Friends & Family Test data and the deadline for submissions for the next few months are as follows:

February – submission closure is 16 March
March – submission closure is 18 April
April – submission closure is 18 May

If you have any queries, please contact Jenny Long at NHS England, E-mail: jenniferlong@nhs.net or telephone: 01138 247220 or please contact england.friendsandfamilytest@nhs.net.

MenB Vaccine Guidance
The increased media activity and campaigning around the MenB vaccine, specifically around extending the eligibility criteria  is predictably leading to increased demand for the vaccine by parents of children outside the age range. Practices are coming under increasing pressure to supply the vaccine locally but the programme is set nationally and, as such, NHS E are leading communications and  are supporting practices in dealing with requests. The national line being taken is unchanged. Practices may be experiencing difficulties re private vaccination, including difficulties in vaccine supply for private practice, and if you would like further information please contact janice.foster@nhs.net.

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