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Small practices complain at their treatment by PCTs

Half of PCTs in England are unsympathetic to the needs of small practices and singlehanders, according to research

by the Small Practices Ass-

ociation.

In a survey of all 309 trust chief executives, only 51 per cent of respondents said they had policies that addressed

the specific demands of small practices.

Some 44 per cent gave little or no evidence that they

offered tailored support for singlehanders, the association said. Some 5 per cent said they had no singlehanded practices.

The findings suggested that trusts were acting on claims made by Prime Minister Tony Blair that small practices offer a worse standard of care.

The Small Practices Association set up the survey after Health Secretary Alan Milburn said last year: 'We can help singlehanded practitioners but only if PCTs help them as well.'

Association chair Dr Michael Taylor said the results revealed small practices were not getting the help demanded by Mr Milburn.

'The majority of trusts have got the message but there is a significant minority where chief executives are not convinced of the virtues of small practices,' he said.

In a parallel survey of 200 small practices by the association, 52 per cent reported that their trust's only specific policy towards them was to 'herd them into PMS'.

Some 42 per cent thought their primary care trust had a policy to reduce the number of small practices, while 34 per cent said their trust did not listen to their needs.

Almost a quarter of respondents believed they were a 'thorn in their PCT's side'.

Despite the apparent lack of support, 44 per cent of GPs said they had a mostly good or very good relationship with their trust.

Only 18 per cent reported a poor relationship.

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