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The GPC has strongly criticised the Government for consistently failing to provide central funding to pay GPs for their work on public health campaigns.

The committee called for payment details to be decided at national level and warned health campaigns were being put at risk by financial crises in some trusts.

GPC negotiator Dr Rich-ard Vautrey said ministers must stop leaving GPs to thrash out agreements with PCTs after it emerged there were no payment details in place for the upcoming MMR catch-up campaign.

The Government has provided grants of £5,000 per PCT to cover the cost of extra vaccines, but has left PCTs to find the money to pay GPs.

Trusts in the London catch-up area contacted by Pulse said they were considering locally enhanced services to pay GPs for the vaccine programme but that no decisions had yet been made.

The Government has also yet to resolve confusion over who should be responsible for immunising university students against MMR and how payments for GPs should be arranged.

Dr Vautrey said the Government needed to reach a clear understanding at national level because local financial deficits were damaging public health programmes.

'It's a waste of time trying to sort out some local arrangement. Everybody's doing the same thing and huge numbers of PCTs are facing funding shortages and when another piece of work comes along they haven't accounted for it.

'We need a sensible national policy which makes it clear who should be doing it and who's going to fund it,' he said.

Dr Rachel Heathcock, consultant in communicable disease at South East London Health Protection Unit, agreed that it would be 'incredibly helpful' to have a central funding agreement for GPs since PCTs were all at different stages of resolving the issue.

Dr Sheila Adams, director of public health in north-

east London, said PCTs

in her area were considering setting up locally enhanced services as they would not expect GPs to do the work for nothing.

But she said PCTs needed to work out how much they could afford in the current financial year.

By Emma Wilkinson

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