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'Surprise windfall for enhanced services'

Central Liverpool PCT is celebrating an unexpected prescribing underspend of half a million pounds.

This has left the trust in the unusual position of being free to commission a wider range of enhanced services than first planned.

But practices' lack of interest in providing care for multiple sclerosis patients and homeless patients has led the trust to rule these services out ­ and a lack of GP volunteers means only a limited service will be provided for violent patients.

The PCT will use part of the prescribing budget windfall to pay GPs a six-month retainer fee for running the drug and alcohol misuse, depression and minor injuries enhanced services on a pilot basis.

Dr Koratty Mohanan, chair of the trust's professional executive committee and a GP in the city, said: 'We are fortunate in being £500,000 under our prescribing budget, which was an unexpected windfall. Rather than having to cut back on other services, this means we will not have to hold back on investing.'

He said that some

practices were aspiring to achieve the full 1,050 quality points.

Dr Rob Barnett, chair of Liverpool LMC, said: 'We've not done too badly in Liverpool. The LMC has worked closely with the

PCTs to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible.

'Certain aspects, such as enhanced services, are yet to be finalised. The PCT's response has been to commission practices on a limited basis to collect information. The problem has been a limited amount of time to get it all organised.'

One-star PCT Central Liverpool

Population 266,000

Number of GPs/practices 160/63

GPs opting out of out-of-hours 100%

Average practice Q&O target 900 points

Prescribing overspend 2003/4? No ­ £500,000

under budget

% of practices in PMS 44%

% of GMS practices needing MPIG 80%

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