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Underperforming practices can be ousted by private companies

GPs should push PCOs for higher enhanced services rates so they can plug the shortfall in pension funding, GP negotiators are advising.

GPC chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said the pay hikes could make up around £30 million negotiators failed to wring out of the Department of Health to cover new earnings from the contract.

The shortfall means GPs have to find around £1,000 from their own pockets.

'People have to realise that out of the money they get for enhanced services they may have to put some of it away for their pension,' said Dr Meldrum.

'The more you pay in, the better you are in the long-term.'

But LMCs attacked the call as 'unrealistic' because PCTs would plead poverty.

North Staffordshire LMC secretary Dr Paul Golik said: 'When GPs work out how much they will be asked for there will be a lot of resentment as what they see as profit is whittled down.'

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