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Figures expose yawning gap in GP funding across single PCT

By Gareth Iacobucci

Huge discrepancies in funding between GP practices have been laid bare by new figures showing massive variations within the same PCT.

Figures released by NHS Camden under the Freedom of Information Act show that the highest paid practices in the trust receive more than twice as much per patient as the lowest.

The cost per patient ranges from as low as £57.72 in one practice, to as high as £145.34 in another.

The figures, which are documented in the BMJ, were released after a long-running battle between the PCT and Camden resident Peter Roderick, who was angered by the trust's decision to award the contract for his own local practice to private firm UnitedHealth.

The data released showed that the three practices awarded to UnitedHealth – Brunswick, Kings Cross Road and Camden Road, were receiving close to or below the average in cost per patient in Camden (around £90, £77 and £78 respectively).

But the release of the figures has nevertheless unmasked huge variations across the trust.

The battle over the release of the figures follows a number of high profile controversies involving the trust's dealings with the private sector.

The PCT was heavily criticised for awarding the three local GP practices to UnitedHealth in 2008, despite a bid by local GPs being rated higher for services offered.

The trust was also recently forced to shelve plans to award a Darzi centre contract to private firm Care UK, after admitting it acted unlawfully by ‘making a decision to invest' in the Darzi centre without having conducted a public consultation on the proposal.

The figures have exposed huge discrepancies in practice funding within a single PCT The figures have exposed huge discrepancies in practice funding within a single PCT