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GPs are in line for a payout of £3,000 each after a London doctor won a landmark legal victory to claim his PGEA.

Dr Cornell Fleming took Islington PCT to court after it refused to pay his allowance for 2003/4, claiming the money had been included in his global sum.

Clerkenwell county court this week ruled that payments for courses in the year to March 31, 2004, should have been paid after April 1.

The ruling, which upheld GPC guidance on PGEA published last July, opens the door to thousands of copycat claims from GPs.

But Dr Fleming blasted GPC negotiators for failing to enforce their guidance and forcing GPs to go to court to claim the money from PCTs.

Speaking immediately after his victory, Dr Fleming said: 'It shouldn't have had to come to this ­ we were entitled to the money. This is something the GPC should have done in the first place.'

David Middlebrough, the solicitor acting for Dr Fleming, said he expected GPs across the UK to now pursue similar claims.

'One would hope that this really establishes a precedent and this would persuade other PCTs that it's pointless to take it to court,' he said.

Negotiators refused to comment on the implications of the case for GPs until they had considered the judgment.

Dr Fleming said that legal action against Islington PCT became his only option after it told him there was 'no more claiming' for PGEA money.

In court, PCT managers argued that PGEA payments for 2003/4 were made during that year, for that year's training, and the amount paid was based on training completed in previous years.

They claimed PGEA payments were now subsumed into the new contract's global sum payment for appraisal and revalidation, therefore no extra was due.

Ruling in Dr Fleming's favour, District Judge Michael Haselgrove denied the trust's interpretation of the Red Book and awarded Dr Fleming £2,944 plus costs.

A spokeswoman for Islington PCT said the trust would discuss the judgment with the LMC. PCTs face a bill of up to £90 million unless the Government comes up with extra cash to cover the payments.

By Rob Finch

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