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CAMHS won't see you now

GPs defy deadline on out-of-hours plans

GPs are ignoring the NHS Confederation's September 30 deadline for them to tell primary care organisations whether they plan to ditch out-of-hours.

The stand-off comes after LMCs co-ordinated a campaign of defiance because GPs still do not know how much it will cost them to drop their 24-hour responsibility.

The contract states GPs will lose 6 per cent of their global sum, or £6,000 for an average three-partner practice, if they opt out.

But GPs will not know their precise global sum until PCOs send out revised figures early next year based on practices' registered patient lists rather than census data.

GP negotiators have also instructed GPs to ignore the deadline, set by the NHS Confederation in a briefing to PCOs on contract planning.

The confederation told PCOs to find out by the end of September 'at the latest' which GPs wanted to give up out-of-hours.

But Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC negotiator, said PCOs only needed to start asking GPs their intentions at the beginning of next year because they do not have to take over out-of-hours until December 2004.

Dr Russell Walshaw, secretary of East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire LMCs, said GPs could not make an informed decision until they knew what they were giving up.

He said: 'I am telling GPs there is no deadline because there is no regulatory framework. And I am telling all my PCTs there is no deadline.'

Dr Richard Vautrey, medical secretary of Leeds LMC, added: 'As far as I am concerned there is no deadline. Practices and trusts have not got enough information.'

Dr Fay Wilson, a member of Birmingham LMC and medical director of Birmingham and District GP Emergency Rooms, said GPs also needed to know what alternative service PCOs planned to provide if GPs opted out.

She said: 'All practices will have an interest in knowing as it will impact on their daytime service.'

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