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GPs may stop childhood vaccinations

GPs in Leicester are threatening to opt out of providing childhood vaccinations after two PCTs' cut payments for offering the service.

Leicester City West and East Leicester PCTs have told GPs they will no longer fund health visitors to carry out vaccination clinics at their practices. As of January, GPs would have to pay for the PCT-employed health visitors or provide the service themselves, the PCTs have said.

The move is part of an effort to cut deficits worth £5.5m across the two PCTs. Both trusts have also said they intend to charge doctors for blood tests carried out by district nurses and ear syringing. GPs said the trusts' decision to impose the changes without first discussing them had 'shattered' previously good working relationships.

Dr VK Singh, chair of Leicestershire and Rutland LMC, estimated that one GP in five would stop providing childhood vaccinations. He said: 'Ultimately the patient is going to suffer.'

Dr Steve Longworth, a GP in Leicester, said if the PCTs believed their childhood vaccination system was out of line with the rest of the country, they should have first discussed it with GPs.

Writing to GPs and ordering them to rearrange systems and recruit staff at short notice to take over the service was 'ridiculous', he added.Dr Longworth continued: 'It has caused massive ill-feeling between GPs and the PCT and the cost in terms of the value of the relationship will far outweigh any financial cost they might have saved.'

Rob McMahon, chief executive of Leicester City West PCT, said the trust made changes as part of its financial recovery plan and in preparation for practice-based commissioning. He added that 10 out of 27 practices already provided immunisation themselves and insisted the PCT had discussed the move with GPs.

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