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Urban GPs are short-changed on out-of-hours

GPs in urban areas are warning out-of-hours care could suffer after they were given a smaller share of £28 million Government funding for new services.

One GP co-operative said the allocation for its region amounted to just 18p per patient per year after the lion's share of the money was given to rural areas.

Health minister John Hutton had said 'perhaps rural and remote or deprived inner-city areas' could benefit when he announced the out-of-hours cash in October last year.

But this year's allocation of £14 million has been divided into a £7 million rurality fund, and £7 million spread between all trusts' unified budgets – with no specific funding for

inner-city areas.

Dr Fay Wilson, medical director of Birmingham and District GP Emergency Rooms, said the £360,000

allocation for Birmingham

and the Black Country would have to cover two million

patients.

She added: 'The whole of the new contract is weighted towards rurality. They will get the sort of services they resource. If they put more money into rural areas they will get a better service.'

Dr Mark Reynolds, chair of the National Association of GP Co-operatives, said many trusts would need to 'redirect funds from other sources' to meet accreditation standards.

'This money helps but some radical thinking will still be required by many PCTs,' he added.

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