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GPs face having to pick up winter-pressures tab

Out-of-hours co-ops have warned that GPs may have to pick up the tab because they are struggling to secure winter pressures money from trusts.

Sussex Doctors on Call (Susdoc) said last week it may have to charge GPs an extra £400 if £25,000-worth of winter pressures money, used to offset higher seasonal costs, does not come through.

The co-op was expecting £50,000 in total from the four trusts in its area, but only one has agreed to hand over the money. In anticipation of the funding, the co-op set up a nurse triage and advice system in order to cope with the increase in demand.

Susdoc general manager John Anthony said the co-op will now have to pay for this from its existing funds.

'The mischievous part of me says reduce services and call the News of the World when there are huge queues,' he said.

'In reality we will find the money out of reserves or increase membership fees.'

Thamesdoc, which covers nine trusts in Surrey and Hampshire, said only one trust ­ North Hampshire ­ had promised it some winter pressures money. The co-op could have received up to £126,000, but has so far had only £7,700.

Thamesdoc chief executive Stephen Price said the cost to GPs could work out at £470 but the co-op had made savings throughout the year to offset this.

Dr Michael Crow, medical manager of the co-op and a GP in Kingston, Surrey, said: 'If someone says we will give you a bit of extra money it's a bonus but I'm still going to provide the service that's safe [even without it].'

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