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Pulse Comment Squeezed to the last drop

GPs, it seems, are being squeezed from all sides. In just a single week, details have emerged of four separate schemes to eke out pennies by restricting GPs' clinical practice or clamping down on their pay. Trusts are doing everything they

can think of to haul down deficits, including issuing lists of banned drugs, pushing for mass switching to the cheapest statins, forcing

PMS GPs to shift to GMS contracts and combing through quality

data for anomalies they can

dispute. And among all this Scroogery, GPs must somehow keep going without allowing patient

care to suffer.

Desperate times

This is more than just another set

of squabbles between doctors and managers. Trusts are going through unusually desperate times right now and GPs are in most cases

doing their best to co-operate. But the current crisis is particularly galling because not so long ago

the NHS was supposed to be flush with cash, lolling around in the biggest sustained increases in funding since its launch all those idealistic years ago.

For all the many doubtless improvements in patient care, it is difficult not to wonder where all

the money went. But perhaps the more pertinent question is why

the Government is so hellbent on clawing back its cash so quickly. Patricia Hewitt's bizarre insistence that trusts must not only eradicate their deficits this year, but also force their way into surplus, is squeezing the life out of the NHS. And it is GPs who are bearing the brunt.

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