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GPs get paid twice over for extended hours

By Steve Nowottny

PCT bosses are to pay GPs twice over for running evening and weekend surgeries in a desperate bid to meet the Government's extended opening target, Pulse has learned.

Under the terms of a new LES agreement offered by South West Essex PCT, GPs who sign up for extended hours by the end of the month will receive a ‘bonus payment' equivalent to payment for the first two quarters of the year.

The deal comes as some PCTs struggle to convince practices to offer extended hours. While nationally the Government is on course to meet its target of 50% of practices offering evening and weekend appointments, the latest figures for Essex show just 26 out of 286 practices have signed up to the scheme.

Dr Brian Balmer, chief executive of Essex LMCs, said the deal sounded like ‘a very iffy way of spending taxpayers money', but confirmed lawyers had advised it was ‘perfectly legal'.

PCT bosses were ‘bunging loads of money' at GPs in a desperate bid to meet the Government's target, he added. ‘The PCT is offering twice the money for half the work, so I think GPs will go for that.'

A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘Under arrangements agreed with the BMA earlier this year, there is a clear principle that additional payment should begin when a GP practice starts to provide extended hours. This is ultimately, however, a matter for local agreement between PCTs and GP practices.'

Extended hours: some 'desperate' PCTs are offering big bonuses Extended hours: some 'desperate' PCTs are offering big bonuses

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