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Primecare wins 48-hr access cash

GPs have condemned a PCT for signing a contract with deputising service Primecare to help practices achieve the 48-hour access target, writes Nerys Nairon.

Under the deal with Luton Teaching PCT, patients will be offered a consultation at Primecare's primary care centre if their practice cannot give an appointment in 48 hours.

Primecare said it will seek similar deals with other trusts struggling to achieve the target.

But GPs said the money should be invested in practice staff and other GP services.

Dr Roger Chapman, GPC representative for Bedfordshire and a GP in Leighton Buzzard, said the deal was 'a worrying development'.

He added: 'The money should be diverted to general practice rather than fragmenting care and engaging another agency.'

GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden denounced the agreement. 'They are removing GPs' discretion to spend. The Government is buying itself political soundbites.'

Luton Teaching PCT said the cost of the contract was one-fifth that of hiring a locum for each practice covered by the scheme.

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