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GPs face frustrating future as PCTs fail to prepare for new contract

Many PCTs have failed to heed repeated warnings to prepare now for the new GP contract, according to the NHS Confederation.

NHS Confederation negotiator Dr Tony Snell said progress in implementing the deal was variable among trusts.

The confederation and the GPC have made repeated pleas to managers not to wait for a priced contract to appear before making preparations.

'They're going to find it an awful rush to get things sorted out and will find that

GP practices become frustrated,' Dr Snell said. 'It's quite likely GPs will want to opt out of out-of-hours sooner rather than later. Primary care organisations need to recognise that for revalidation and retention purposes and should plan to move as soon as possible.'

Dr Snell, a locum GP and medical adviser at Kent and Medway strategic health authority, said recruitment and retention of GPs would also suffer in areas where trusts had yet to start preparing for the new contract.

Some trusts have begun contract talks with GPs, LMCs and out-of-hours co-operatives, but others have only looked at possible commissioning models for local enhanced services.

Craven, Harrogate and Rural District PCT said it had compiled a database of the services GPs would like to provide and had held regular meetings with the LMC and out-of-hours providers.

Dr Ron Nixon, chair of the trust's professional executive committee, said the trust saw the contract as a tool for modernising services: 'The new contract will probably be one of the most useful enzymes in bringing about service modernisation more quickly than able to with the old contract.'

Carolyn Larsen, director of Essex Primary Care Forum, a network of 13 trusts, said it had drawn up frameworks for local enhanced services but could only make limited pre-paration due to the lack of pricing.

'There's been lots of discussions in PCTs recognising that there's a limit to what people can do at this stage,' she said. 'We don't want to look at things that are going to be resolved by national negotiations.'

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