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LMCs to battle for enhanced services cash

LMCs are gearing up to mount a series of high-profile

public campaigns against primary care organisations to force them to find the cash for enhanced services.

Tactics emerging include leafleting patients, providing the enhanced services only on a private basis and involving local media and politicians to put pressure on PCOs.

The threats come after PCOs admitted they were relabelling existing projects because they had already spent £315 million allocated for enhanced services.

The issue has emerged as a key battleground in the implementation of the contract.

GP negotiators backed the campaigns and called on

LMCs to take the lead in ensuring GPs get the money they are due for providing the services.

Enhanced services are expected to account for around £10,000 a year for every GP from April 2004.

'LMCs should be leading on implementation of enhanced services and should advise GPs not to do the work and that the responsibility lies with the PCO,' said Dr Simon Fradd, joint deputy GPC chair.

'They could produce leaflets to give to the public saying the service is no longer available and to contact their PCO on where to go instead.'

LMCs said they were already planning campaigns.

Dr Mark Wood, chair of North Devon LMC, said it would chase the £918,000 allocated to North Devon PCT after the trust admitted it told the Department of Health it had committed the funds to enhanced services but did not know if it had the cash. He said: 'It could involve a PR exercise, local TV, leaflets to patients and involving local MPs.'

Andrew Bradshaw, deputy chief executive of Essex

LMCs, said GPs could treat other practices' patients privately using an LMC tariff. He said: 'If there's no money for it, it's not an NHS service.'

Birmingham, North Yorkshire, Manchester and Kent LMCs were considering similar actions. The NHS Confederation vowed this week not to let trusts 'off the hook'.

Mike Farrar, chair of the confederation's contract negotiating team, said: 'We have collected a lot of data and are confirming and challenging it.'

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