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'Make cuts or no growth money'

PMS GPs in Northumberland are the latest to be targeted for cutbacks after managers imposed a list of criteria they must meet to get growth money.

Northumberland Care Trust is demanding reductions in emergency admissions to 2004/05 levels and guaranteed minimum opening hours of 8.30am to 5.30pm, five days a week.

Further targets have been linked to practice-based commissioning, including a 10 per cent reduction in elective referrals and cuts in prescribing.

GPs said the trust was trying to amend contracts mid-year and impose the targets without negotiation.

One Northumberland GP, who asked not to be named, said the move was 'appalling and incredibly demoralising

at a time when we've never worked harder'.

The GP said: 'Why do they think we can magically reduce referral activity by 10 per cent when half of the e-mails we get are about how we should be doing more things?'

A spokesperson for the trust said it would discuss PMS arrangements with Northumberland LMC. 'Every primary care organisation has an obligation to ensure its contracts with GPs are as effective as possible in helping it to deliver on targets.'

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