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NI GPs furious as they get details just three weeks before contract

GPs in Northern Ireland have condemned implementation of the new contract in the province after practices were told they would get their global sum details less than three weeks before April 1.

Practices also look set to miss out on enhanced services cash after the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety refused to

confirm the £11 million allocated to the services would be spent.

GPs said health boards will only be able to fund the cheapest national enhanced services, and may not commission practices to provide them.

GPC Northern Ireland chair Dr Brian Dunn said he was 'disgusted' at the department over the delays in giving GPs their indicative budgets. Practices in the rest of the UK already have their income details.

Dr Dunn added the BMA's technical steering committee had been waiting a month for officials to confirm enhanced services spending. 'We are concerned about the enhanced service floor,' he said.

'The department has a difficult job to do but we voted for a contract which had £11 million in enhanced service funding. We are pressing very hard for confirmation of this.'

LMCs said they expected only a limited number of national enhanced services to be commissioned.

Dr Marshall Garvin, secretary of Southern LMC, said warfarin monitoring was the only service being offered. 'Everything else is up in the air,' he added.

Dr Eugene Deeny, chair of Western LMC, said he feared health boards would use enhanced service money to prop up out-of-hours services.

'Minor injuries is a major bone of contention in all areas,' he said.

'With large rural populations patients are used to going to their GP and may have to go a long way for casualty [if it's not funded].'

Dr Jimmy Courtney, Eastern LMC secretary, said

GPs had expected enhanced services to be an 'important

component of their pay

rise'.

By Ian Cameron

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