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£30m to ease out of hours worries

The Government is giving PCTs a £30 million bonus to take over out-of-hours care amid growing signs ministers are worried over their ability to set up new services.

The announcement by health minister John Hutton comes only four months after trusts in England were given £28 million to 'develop' services. Mr Hutton said PCTs will be able to claim up to £100,000 each, paid in two instalments.

The first would come when PCTs satisfy their strategic health authority they are ready to take on responsibility; the second when they can demonstrate they are providing high-quality care.

Mr Hutton admitted he had concerns about out-of-hours provision at the National Association of GP Co-operatives' annual conference.

He said between 30 and 40 trusts were ready to take over in April, but 'quite a few' had not 'engaged with the project'. He added: 'There are no ifs and buts. That is what I expect every PCT in England to deliver.'

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