GPs' anger over enhanced services cuts
By Gareth Iacobucci
A PCT has been accussed of unilaterally imposing funding cuts after it informed practices of plans to immediately suspend local enhanced services in a bid to balance the books.
In a letter to GPs, NHS Haringey announced it was to trim its investment to three core LES's from September due to financial pressures, and told practices it would not reimburse them for any LES work done after August 6.
Londonwide LMCs claim that the decision to pull payments with no notice runs contrary to common law principles, and have accused the PCT of excluding them from all discussions on the issue.
While the PCT's plans would not interfere with national DES payments, local investments would be cut to just three core LES's, with each local collaborative of practices able to agree to one further LES.
The letter reads: ‘This is a difficult year for NHS Haringey financially, pressures on our budget are higher than in previous years and we need to increase savings where possible.
‘For enhanced services, this results in a reduction from last year's budget and means that we have had to review the priorities.'
Dr Tony Grewal, secretary and medical director for Haringey LMC, attacked the PCT for its strong arm tactics and lack of communication.
He said: ‘The biggest concern, quite apart from the idea of a PCT just unilaterally pulling the plug on an enhanced services contract on the back of secondary care pressure, is the poor communication. They haven't looked to work with us in any way at all.'
Dr Grewal said the LMC had been ignored by the PCT when it attempted to dispute the imposition, and had advised practices to consider going through a disputes procedure with the PCT.
A spokeswoman for NHS Haringey confirmed the plans, but insisted that they had been communicated to the LMC.
She said: ‘In setting a balanced budget for 2009/10, NHS Haringey has had to set its Primary Care budgets at the level of out-turn spend in 2008/09. We have communicated this fact, and its implications, to the LMC on a number of occasions.
‘NHS Haringey intends to commission a smaller range of Local Enhanced Services in 2009/10, but is committed to funding those services to the same level as was claimed by GP practices for all local enhanced services in 2008/09.'