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At the heart of general practice since 1960

...but fears grow on IT cash

A cash crisis over practices' IT equipment threatens to

scupper implementation of the contract and leave GPs

out of pocket, writes Nerys Hairon.

Primary care trusts are warning that £17 million earmarked to reimburse GPs for maintenance and upgrades of IT equipment is nowhere near enough.

The cash is supposed to cover bills backdated to April and future work for GPs to prepare for the quality framework.

GPC chair Dr John Chis-holm said last week the BMA had worked out the £17 million 'was not enough' and it was pressing ministers for more cash.

Dr Phil Yates, professional executive committee chair of South Gloucestershire PCT and a GP in Bristol, said the trust's £70,000 allocation was £240,000 short.

He said it would have to 'slice from other budgets' to cover GPs' needs and accused ministers of seriously under-estimating the cost of the work. 'We don't know where we are going to get the money from. There is a huge deficit anyway,' he added.

Several other trusts said they faced similar problems.

Dr David Jenner, contract spokesman for the NHS Alliance, said an essential £60,000 upgrade at his mid-Devon practice would take up his PCT's entire allocation.

'We will keep the receipt and hold the Government to its promise. GPs will be extremely frustrated a clear promise is being reneged on.'

LMCs reported PCT policies were patchy, with some trusts reimbursing GPs fully while others were waiting for additional funding from the Government.

South and North Essex LMC secretary Dr Brian Balmer said many trusts were 'waiting for the magic allocation'.

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