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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Experts pressing for GP focus on respiratory care

By Emma Wilkinson

Pulse today launches a campaign to reverse disastrous changes to rules governing child vaccine pay which will cost practices thousands of pounds and undermine the immunisation programme.

Our campaign will demand the Department of Health scraps the new calculation ­ under which MMR counts as half of total uptake ­ and restores its previous weighting of a quarter.

The launch comes as it em-erged the rule change will hit GPs retrospectively, with practices losing out on pay for children who received DTP, polio and Hib separately.

One PCT called the retrospective calculation 'brutal'. Latest figures show 82 per cent of GPs gaining higher uptake pay, but Pulse last week revealed up to three-quarters could miss out.

The GPC, despite having signed off the rule change, is now pledging to press ministers to reverse it.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC chair, said: 'The very least we would want is to get practices where they were before. One way would be to change the weighting back so the five-in-one is 75 per cent and MMR 25.

'We'll continue to push for informed dissent but we have come up against a brick wall.'

Dr Richard Vautrey, fellow GPC negotiator, said his own practice in Leeds had lost a 'significant' sum and argued forcefully for a reversal of the change.

'It's immensely frustrating. The work we have put in is considerable and it is a smack in the face. We need a return to the previous weighting.'

Public health experts warn-ed it would be catastrophic for the vaccination programme if GPs were forced to opt out.

Professor Rod Griffiths, president of the Royal College of Physicians' faculty of public health, said: 'Primary care needs to continue to be the delivery method of vaccination. GPs need to be engaged.'

GPs enthusiastically backed the Pulse campaign.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, former member of the BMA public health committee, said: 'We need the Pulse campaign, we need to take this forward. The approach we have is counterintuitive and will reduce uptake.'

Dr David Shubhaker, Redbridge and Waltham Forest LMC secretary, said: 'We'd support it very strongly. We're very concerned income will drop.'

Dr Grant Ingrams, West Midlands LMCs regional secretary, said the Government's move had been 'shortsighted and stupid ­ it seems to have been done purely to make it easier and help PCTs that can't count with more than two fingers at a time.'

ewilkinson@cmpinformation.com

· Uptake now based on just MMR and the 5-in-1, meaning thousands of practices will lose higher target pay

· Previous uptake weightings must be restored, with MMR worth no more than a quarter of the total

· Gather evidence on how the new rule is hitting GPs

· Build support of public health experts

· Force the DoH to justify its claim the 5-in-1 vaccine has cut workload

· Lobby ministers and MPs to reverse the change

· Fill in our survey on page 19

· Instruct us to write to your MP on your behalf

· Pledge 'I support the Pulse campaign' by e-mail, phone or fax.

E-mail: pulse@cmpinformation.com;

phone: 020 7921 8102; or fax: 020 7921 8132

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