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Contract No vote would leave GPs facing funding black hole

The GPC has warned of a funding black hole if GPs reject the new contract, with the Government leaving primary care to foot the bill for key clinical initiatives.

The Department of Health has made it clear it expects the new contract to bankroll initiatives such as the national service frameworks for diabetes and the elderly, and improved heart failure care demanded by the NSF for coronary heart disease.

New funding for stroke, epilepsy, mental health, asthma and sexual health could also depend on their inclusion in the quality framework section of the contract.

A department spokesman confirmed there were no contingency plans for getting the money to GPs in the event of a No vote.

GPC negotiator Dr Laurence Buckman warned GPs that funding for existing and future NSFs depended on a Yes vote. 'The Government has said people will do NSFs without resources. If there's no quality and outcomes framework, obviously there will be no money to go through it.'

Professor Martin Rowland, director of the National

Primary Care Research and Development Centre in Manchester, said a No vote would leave primary care improvement funding in jeopardy. 'One can assume if GPs voted No the Government wouldn't be rushing to renegotiate.' He predicted ministers may divert the money into PMS practices.

Dr Peter White, a GP in Romsey, Hampshire, who trains other GPs in stroke care, said: 'The NSF for the elderly is not funded. If we reject the contract I assume we're going to run into a lot of problems.'

Leicester GP Dr Azhar Farooqi, a member of the diabetes NSF implementation group, said: 'It's going to hit not just diabetes but all the other areas covered by quality markers.'

A Department of Health spokesman said there were no contingency plans for getting the money to GPs in the event of a No vote.

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