GPs have been underpaid every year for the past six years and are owed a total of £27.9m because of a mistake in the Quality and Management Analysis System, it has emerged.

The QMAS system is the payments software for the Quality and Outcomes Framework, which has been used in England and Scotland since the QoF was introduced in 2004.

The error in the system dates back to the launch of the QoF but has just come to light.

A Department of Health spokesperson told EHI Primary Care that the government was acting quickly to repay the missing money.

She added: “The mistake was made during the introduction of new contract arrangements in 2004.

"An error was made in the formula used to calculate payments to GP practices for the achievement of a small number of Quality and Outcomes Framework indicators.

“This resulted in small underpayments to GP practices each year since 2004-05. The government will put this right, and has acted quickly to ensure that the relevant amounts will be paid back accordingly.”

The DH’s Primary Care Contracting site put up a statement last Thursday saying the error had been identified and that the DH would provide primary care trusts with resources to make good the underpayments.

The error relates to GP practices’ achievement under the QoF additional services indicators. These indicators cover child health surveillance, cervical cytology and contraception and sexual health.

The QMAS system is due to be replaced. In October, the DH issued a tender for a GP Payments Calculation Service. The new system is intended to calculate QoF payments and other payments outlined in the government’s white paper on reorganising the NHS.

Nine bidders were still involved in the procurement process in December, following the pre-qualification questionnaire.

They are Accenture UK , Atos Origin IT Services UK, Capgemini UK , Dr Foster , Logica UK , Northgate Information Solutions UK, Tata Consultancy Services and Vangent Holding Corporation. Logica UK have since withdrawn from the procurement.