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Health Secretary's aide gets to the heart of the matter

A PCT has provoked fury among GPs by saying it has no obligation to fund enhanced services.

Morecambe Bay PCT has said it will not set up any more services and will siphon off £652,000 unspent from last year to pay off its £7.7 million deficit

GPs claim the trust also plans to further reduce existing enhanced services to help pay the debt.

Dr Richard Johnson, chair of Morecambe Bay LMC and a GP in Dalton in Furness, said the decision was a 'severe setback' to patient care.

He said: 'The PCT has been unable to gain control over spending in the hospitals, and again faces a massive deficit in its budgets.'

Morecambe PCT board papers cited legal advice, stating 'the PCT has no obligation to invest in enhanced services additional to those explicitly falling within the provisions of agreed contract with GPs.'

Dr Andrew Dearden, GPC negotiator, said the PCT position on spending this year's allocation was legally correct, but it was obliged to spend last year's money.

He said GPs in the region should refuse work that would go unpaid if it was not specifically commissioned as an enhanced service.

Dr Dearden said: 'My frustration is with GPs who say that something must be done ­ but not by them. There's a reluctance to take a hard line with PCTs yet they take a hard line with us.'

Morecambe Bay LMC has put in a Freedom of Information Act request to discover how far short of the enhanced services floor the PCT will be this year.

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