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CAMHS won't see you now

GP wins landmark ruling for PGEA payments

The Government has refused to raise a series of fees for next year because it says GPs are 'over-delivering' on the new contract.

Locum reimbursement for sickness, maternity and paternity leave will be frozen for 2005/6 after ministers said increases were 'unaffordable'.

Payments for GP returners, retainers and flexible careers will also stay at 2004 levels.

The decision came as some PCTs were reported to be refusing to meet the cost of rent increases next year and trying to phase out three-yearly rent reviews.

GPs condemned the moves. They accused the Government of 'giving with one hand and taking away with the other' and punishing GPs for providing high levels of quality.

The decision to freeze locum reimbursement means practices will have to cover an even greater proportion of soaring locum rates.

Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC deputy chair, said negotiators were fighting the Department of Health's line that it could keep payments at 2004/5 levels because there was no written agreement that fees had to be increased. 'We will have it out with them,' he said.

Dr Paul Roblin, chief executive of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire LMCs, said although not much money was involved, the principle had to be

defended.

'They are giving with one hand and taking away with the other,' he said. 'They are trying to claw back the money they threw at the new contract but the cost of running a practice will be higher if reimbursement is going to be less.'

Somerset LMC medical secretary Dr Harry Yoxall added: 'My worry is that PCTs see this as discretionary funding.'

Meanwhile, the GPC has reported that at least two PCTs have told GPs they will not automatically fund rent increases from next year.

Dr Peter Holden, GPC negotiator, said: 'You get certain individuals at PCTs who think they can tweak the rules but the guidance is clear. There are no ifs and buts.'

Fees frozen for

2005/6

Locum reimbursement for maternity, paternity, and adoptive and sickness leave

Prolonged study leave

Returners scheme

Flexible careers scheme

Retainer scheme

By Ian Cameron

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