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Trusts 'cannot prepare until contract is priced'

Primary care trusts have claimed they cannot prepare for the new contract before the deal is priced because GPs do not yet know what services they want to provide.

A snapshot survey by Pulse has found most trusts have started to look at out-of-hours services, but believe there is little more they can do until they know what resources are available.

The comments follow a plea by the NHS Confederation earlier this month for trusts to start preparing for the contract now or risk a further drop in GP morale if implementation is delayed.

Dr Alastair Murdoch, professional executive committee chair of Blackburn with Darwen PCT, has sent a questionnaire to GPs asking what services they will want to give up. But he said GPs' answers will depend on how the contract is priced.

'Some GPs will know already what they want to do on things, such as out-of-hours,' Dr Murdoch said. 'Others will say that until they know what money is on the table they don't know what they'll decide.'

Trusts highlighted information technology and the role it is due to play in providing the planned 'high-trust, low-

bureaucracy' system of monitoring GPs as a major issue.

Dr Greg Wilcox, Hastings and St Leonards PCT professional executive committee chair, said the trust was waiting for further details and funding to be revealed: 'Without some of the detail regarding the IT requirements we are waiting with bated breath to see how bureaucracy can be cut.'

Dr Brendan Boyle, professional executive committee chair for Huntingdonshire PCT, said the trust could do nothing about the contract without extra resources. He added: 'There's an attitude of ''we know the contract is coming but is there extra resources coming with it?''.'

Other trusts claimed they had more pressing issues to handle first.

Dr Lis Rodgers, chair of Doncaster West PCT professional executive committee, said recruitment was its priority because 11 out of 52 GP posts in the town were vacant.

Dr Peter Fink of South Manchester PCT said his trust had an 'awful lot on its plate' already with appraisal. 'Why rush around doing stuff when it might not even be in the contract?' he added.

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