By Rob Finch
GPs can expect little or no money from PCTs to cover practice-based commissioning management costs, doctors with links to trusts are reporting. The blow is a result of the Government's decision that PCTs must find the cash from existing budgets.
GPs holding PCT professional executive committee posts said PCTs had no money to fund management costs and would have to make cuts in other services to pay practices for the work. Many trusts would at best be able to second staff to help out practices, they added.
In areas piloting practice-based commissioning GPs have been given as much as £5 per patient to cover management costs.
Dr Stephen Earwicker, PEC chair of Browtowe and Hucknall PCT and a GP in Nottingham, said the Government's decision not to invest more was 'very shortsighted'. He said: 'I don't think PCTs will be able to find anything from the budgets because there's no extra money in the system.
'The only way PCTs can really assist us is by using their existing resources and that's the manpower involved in commissioning. It's making the best of a bad lot.'
Dr Dinah Roy, PEC chair of Sedgefield PCT and a GP in the town, said practices needed a lot of support to get commissioning off the ground and many GPs were not sure if it was worth the effort.
'My colleagues aren't sure what they or their patient will get out of it,' she said.
'PCTs just don't have the money, so they will have to provide resources through staff
or, if they believe GPs' business cases, through the savings they think can be made.'
Dr Albert Benjamin, PEC chair of Walsall PCT and a GP in Caldmore, West Midlands, back-ed the Government's decision not to give PCTs more money, but admitted he didn't know where trusts would find it from their budgets.
He said: 'The tension comes between the management costs split between the emerging PBC group and what's in the PCT. I suspect some PCTs might not be very conducive to releasing the costs available to them.'
Dr Paul French, PEC chair for Bournemouth Teaching PCT and a GP in the town, said his trust would only fund projects that would accumulate clear benefits.
Management funding the best on offer so far
the best on offer so far
· Bradford South and West pilot saw practices paid £5 per patient
· North Somerset best in the region; offering £2 per patient
· Leeds North-East PCT also offering £2 per patient
· Selby and York PCT £3,000 per practice regardless of list size