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Gold, incentives and meh

Pressure grows as forced allocations hit record level

GPs are facing continuing pressure from forced allocations with the numbers of allocated patients still running at record levels.

Primary care organisations in many areas have reported most of their GP lists are closed and measures to limit the number of allocations are having only limited effect.

Slough PCT said GPs in the Berkshire town had forced the trust to build a new, four-

partner practice after 1,565 patients were allocated in the first quarter of 2003 alone.

The trust said all but one of

the practices had closed their lists and GPs were being

overwhelmed by a fast-rising


Dr Peter James, chair of Slough PCT professional executive committee and a

GP in the town, said

the trust had been allocating patients to practices at the

opposite side of the town from their home in order to spread the load.

He added: 'Some of the smaller central practices, which had born the brunt of the allocations, told the PCT to build a new practice.'

The news comes after GPs warned allocations will worsen because of Government plans to build up to 120,000 new houses in the South and Midlands.

Pulse revealed last week 'black holes' with no GP cover had been found by PCTs in Berkshire after practices reduced their boundaries to avoid new housing estates.

Last year allocations exceeded 3,000 in Luton, Bedfordshire, and 5,000 in Liverpool ­ despite one PCT open- ing a new practice.

Dr Rob Barnett, secretary of Liverpool LMC, said the three PCTs in the city were on target to place the same

number of patients in 2003.

He added: 'We have made sure allocations are being spread evenly across the patch so that everyone is shouldering the problem.'

Luton PCT reported it made 1,192 allocations in the first three months of this year, more than double the previous quarter.

Dr Ken Megson, secretary of Gateshead LMC, said most GPs in the region had closed their lists.

He added: 'We have one or two allocations a week at this practice ­ a few years back we got that number in an entire year.'

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