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PCTs squeeze LES funding as efficiency savings begin to bite

By Gareth Iacobucci

Exclusive: The future of enhanced services is under threat at many PCTs, with managers reviewing funding as part of plans to deliver millions of pounds in efficiency savings.

More than a fifth of trusts have placed LES funding under review, while some managers are already capping GP activity under existing agreements, a Pulse investigation reveals.

In one case, GPs are set to lose thousands of pounds after having LES funding for sexual health capped for the rest of this financial year because of the economic pressures.

An analysis of 46 PCT efficiency plans, released under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals 10 have outlined plans to review LES funding. The findings raise concerns practices will face funding cuts at just the same time as hospital work is transferred to them.

NHS Stoke said: ‘All enhanced services are being reviewed to determine effectiveness and value for money.'

NHS Telford & Wrekin said LES schemes were being reviewed ‘to ensure they are producing health benefits', while NHS Trafford said all enhanced services would be benchmarked using a balanced scorecard.

In Sheffield, GPs have reacted angrily after being told LES funding for sexual health was being capped for the rest of this financial year.

GPs will only be paid for work carried out up to 31 January 2009 and have been advised to refer patients to a specialist clinic with which the PCT has a block contract.

Dr Jenny King, a GP at a university practice in Sheffield, said her practice would lose at least £3,000 from the move: ‘We've already done activity we're not going to be paid for. This is no way to support practices in providing full contraceptive services and does not support patient choice.'

Dr Richard Oliver, joint PEC chair of NHS Sheffield and a local GP, insisted the trust had been left with little choice.

‘Practices have been providing levels of activity we do not have the funds to cover, so we have had to cap activity. While we recognise this has an impact, we continue provide access to these services through a specialised clinic in the city centre.'

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘Lamentably, many PCTs are still failing to grasp that paying for extra services in general practice is far more cost-effective than patients unnecessarily attending specialist clinics and hospitals.'

Dr Chaand Nagpaul: 'PCTs are still failing to grasp that GP services cost less than specialist clinics' Dr Chaand Nagpaul: 'PCTs are still failing to grasp that GP services cost less than specialist clinics'


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