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Independents' Day

PCTs deserve 'rocket' for lack of GP support

By Helen Crump

PCTs are condemning practice-based commissioning to failure by not backing GPs and denying them crucial information, the body charged with helping practices is warning.

The Improvement Foundation said obstructive trusts deserved a 'rocket' after its survey of 400 practices found only one in three felt aided by their PCT.

Only one practice in five had received a full range of budget and activity data from their PCT and 11 per cent had been given no information whatsoever.

The findings came as Government data for June revealed that take-up of the scheme is falling further behind schedule.

Only 40 per cent of PCTs had given GPs indicative budgets and benchmarking data, offered the PBC-directed enhanced service and set governance and accountability arrangements.

Ministers had indicated all trusts should have met these criteria by the end of June.

The two sets of findings prompted Lord Warner, health minister, to attack 'laggardly' trusts and demand they work more closely with GPs.

He said: 'Reform is something PCTs cannot afford not to do, and I urge them to work in partnership with practices to ensure they are receiving the required support.'

The survey by the Improvement Foundation also found 57 per cent of practices had not been given a budget for out-patients, 59 per cent had not received a budget for emergency admissions and 58 per cent had not received a budget for elective in-patients.

Sir John Oldham, head of the foundation and a GP in Glossop, Derbyshire, said GPs would never engage with commissioning unless PCTs let go of the reins.

He said: 'I would be directing rockets at PCTs who are trying to do it themselves. When GPs have the data it leads them to think and ask clinical questions, which leads to getting their engagement.'

Dr Brian McGregor, a GP in Acomb, York, said practices in his area were keen in theory to take on commissioning, but still had no budgets at all and expected them to be top-sliced when they arrived.

He feared savings would also be used to aid PCTs' recovery plans rather than going to GPs: 'Unless the centre makes it a priority, the PCT will not take part. They are doing the work they have to do rather than promoting it proactively.'

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