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PCOs in the dark on budgets as GP prescribing costs soar

Primary care organisations may have to set crucial budgets without key Government commissioned estimates of how much cash to set aside to fund the quality framework.

Researchers charged with predicting the impact of the framework on GP prescribing costs say they are unlikely to release figures before PCOs thrash out local delivery plans next month.

The GPC and RCGP are warning that prescribing spending will soar by up to 20 per cent. But PCOs may have to wait until after the contract launch in April for Government projections for each of the 10 clinical domains.

Dave Roberts, manager of the Prescribing Support Unit and a member of the quality framework working group, said the Department of Health only commissioned the 'extremely difficult' work in September. He told Pulse: 'PCTs are around the time of setting their local delivery plans but we're unsure we'll be able to give robust figures by then.

'We'll certainly have completed the work by April ­ but again, if the figures aren't

robust, I won't release any.'

GPC prescribing chair Dr Peter Fellows said: 'The quality framework will increase costs by 10 to 20 per cent ­ maybe even more. The department seems to presume PCTs will deal with it out of their unified budget ­ but they can't and won't.'

RCGP prescribing chair Dr Jim Kennedy, a GP in Middlesex, said costs would soar by 'anything up to 17 per cent'. He added: 'It's in nobody's interest if PCTs don't have time to plan ­ they'll get in-year cost pressures that will wreak havoc with their budgets.'

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