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GPs go forth

PBC savings frozen in bid to plug PCT overspend

By Nigel Praities

NHS managers have enraged GPs by shifting thousands of pounds of efficiency savings from primary care to plug a financial overspend by hospitals.

In a move GPs claim contravenes national guidance, NHS South Birmingham has frozen reinvestment of savings from practice-based commissioning, citing ‘significant pressures' on its budget.

The trust has further angered GPs by announcing a partnership agreement with a consultancy firm that will cost the trust millions. The PCT will pay US company Aetna £3.5m over two years to improve PBC performance and help ‘introduce best practices' from the private sector to the NHS.

A letter sent to all practices involved in PBC warns the allocation of freed-up resources was being ‘delayed' indefinitely.

‘The organisation is experiencing some significant pressures primarily due to swine flu, and until we are clearer of the full extent, we will need to temporarily stop the release of freed-up-resources investment,' says the letter.

‘Once the picture is clearer, we will review this,' it adds.

A PCT financial report reveals it is also facing ‘significant risks' from increasing outpatient appointments and a ‘failure to cut activity levels in A&E and emergency admissions'.

Dr Robert Morley, executive secretary of Birmingham LMC and a GP in the city, said: ‘They spend a fortune on sexy initiatives with private-sector partners, but won't invest in general practice – the one thing that will solve their problems.

‘It is a clear contravention of DH guidelines to use freed-up resources to prop up PCT deficits, but the PCT have done exactly that,' he added.

The trust said freed-up resources would be available from the new financial year.

Dr Robert Morley: 'They spend a fortune on private-sector partners but they won't invest in general practice'

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