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Enhanced pay crisis 'Government's fault'

The GPC has called on the Government to share the blame for the looming funding crisis over enhanced services, claiming it failed to issue clear guidance to primary care trusts over how much to allocate until it was too late.

PCTs were sent a Department of Health circular last November detailing the baseline national investment of £315 million for enhanced services spending in 2003/4.

But key figures detailing individual PCTs' minimum spend on enhanced services and a list of enhanced services were only sent out to strategic health authorities this month. Pulse reported last week that many PCTs had already spent the money elsewhere.

GPC joint-deputy chair Dr Hamish Meldrum admitted hold-ups in negotiations were partly the cause of the funding crisis, saying: 'We hold our hands up ­ some of it is due to the delay in getting the contract finalised.'

But he called on the department to share the blame, arguing: 'The Government should have and could have been more clear about it early on.'

It was 'not acceptable' for PCTs to use the lack of clarity over the pricing and details of enhanced services to avoid funding them, Dr Meldrum said. 'Unless PCT executives and financial directors were living on another planet they would have realised the new contract was coming in and they would have to fund these services.'

The department denied its original guidance was vague but admitted it could have provided the breakdown earlier.

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