In his second healthcare article Philip Redhead focuses on an important area relating to GP practice funding: Covid-19 reimbursements.
In a letter sent to NHS managers on 17 March the NHS chief executive, Simon Stephens, confirmed that “to ensure that practice funding does not influence clinical decisions during the current outbreak of Covid-19, QOF and other enhanced service funding will be protected at the same levels as prior to the outbreak”. It was also promised that additional surgery costs would be funded by the NHS.
On 4 August this commitment was brought in to effect when NHS England, in a letter to GP surgeries, confirmed that claims can now be made for practice reimbursements from the Covid-19 Fund.
All GP surgeries can now claim reimbursements for additional costs incurred between 23 March and 31 July, relating to the pandemic; specifically, staff and partner absenteeism and the cost of other net additional expenditure. This includes items such as:
- Additional clinical equipment required to deal with the pandemic, such as oximeters and digital thermometers, etc.
- The cost of minor physical adjustments to buildings such as Perspex screens and barriers.
- Additional cleaning materials.
- The cost of bank holiday opening on Good Friday and Easter Monday and the May Bank Holiday at the following rates: sessional GPs up to a maximum of £250 per session or £500 per day, overtime, pathology, other GPs in line with their contractual arrangements, up to £299 per session for GP partners for up to two additional sessions and overtime for other GP practice staff in line with their contractual arrangements.
- The cost of staff absenteeism; this is from day one of absence, where it was required to maintain clinical capacity and if the staff could not work from home. These costs can be claimed for the period 23 March to 31 July.
- The cost of providing support to care homes as described in the NHS letter to surgeries; surgeries can claim for these costs until the end of September.
It was also announced in this letter that the Department of Health and Social Care ( DHSC) will also provide funding to cover the costs of personal protective equipment purchased by surgeries. No date was given as to when these PPE claims can be made, although they mentioned that this will be soon.
Many practices have already submitted claims and the local agreements for additional costs relating to dealing with the pandemic; however, if these claims were outside the scope announced in the letter then additional amounts may need to be repaid.
In the appendix to the letter the NHS said “commissioners may require an appropriate portion claims to be repaid or set off against practice global sum or such other monies due under the GP contract if the funding was outside the terms of this guidance”. However, the commissioners have been given some leeway as the appendix went on to say “commissioners should consider every exceptional circumstance in making these judgements in assessing support”.
The appendix to this letter includes a declaration from that is used to make the claim for reimbursements, copies of invoices, receipts and timesheets will need to be attached to this.
NHS England has also confirmed that a Post-Payment Verification will be carried out on a sample of claims, particularly relating to additional costs of maintaining care home services, this will include comparing both pre and post Covid-19 service levels.
Claims that need to be dealt with quickly as surgeries were given a six-week window from 4 August to make their claims so the window of opportunity will close on 15 September.
The additional costs incurred due to this pandemic have been substantial for most surgeries and accountants should take this opportunity to remind GPs and practice managers that these claims should be made without delay.
• Philip Redhead is MD at Accounts Action (S.E.) Limited, based in Kent. If you would like to discuss this or any other healthcare accountancy matters further contact him on 01883 732203/732204 or email@example.com.