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PBC flagging as fewer GPs get indicative budgets

By Gareth Iacobucci

The number of GPs receiving an indicative commissioning budget from their PCT has fallen, according to new figures.

Results from the Department of Health's quarterly PBC survey show that 69% of practices are receiving indicative budgets, down from 73% in wave five.

There was also a 3% drop in the number of GPs who had an agreed commissioning plan with their trust, with numbers falling from 67% to 64%.

The news comes despite trusts recently being told they would fail against World Class Commissioning competency targets if they didn't provide better support and financial backing for GPs.

GPs were told to expect an indicative budget and an agreed level of financial and management support from their trusts by May 1 each year as part of Government moves to reinvigorate the faltering initiative.

But the latest figures suggest many trusts will struggle to meet the Government's demands.

Overall support for practice Based Commissioning did improve slightly between December and March, increasing from 62% to 64%.

The number of practices commissioning services through PBC also increased from 56% to 61%.

Dr Johnny Marshall, chair of the NAPC and a GP in Wendover, Bucks, said it was essential that GPs had budgets by May 1.

He said: ‘If people are looking for indicative budgets for 2009/10, I guess they may not have had them now but will need to by May 1.

‘It would be very disappointing if engagement in terms of PCTs providing indicative budgets was going down when it is an absolute entitlement that PBC groups should have them by May 1.

Dr Marshall added: ‘The MORI polls around PBC are showing an increasing level of engagement, but this isn't necessarily reflecting people's feelings on the ground.

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