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FUR issue puts engagement at risk

PBC appears to be winning the hearts and minds of those involved, even though two-thirds of practice-based commissioners say they have received no freed-up resources (FURs).

The latest Department of Health PBC survey reveals that 80% of commissioning leads believe PBC has improved access to services and 77% agree PBC is a more cost-effective policy that delivers a better patient experience.

But worryingly, 62% of PBC leads report that they have not received any FURs.

Dr Johnny Marshall, chair of the NAPC, said problems with FURs might ‘switch off' those currently engaged with PBC.

He told Practical Commissioning: ‘This FURs issue doesn't seem to be changing much from survey to survey. If there are no FURs available to practices to develop services locally, what are the incentives to get involved with PBC? There is a danger clinical engagement will be lost.

‘The survey suggests clinical engagement is increasing, which is good – but the issue about FURs means that these people will then switch off.'

Dr Marshall urged colleagues to be clear at the outset what FURs their consortium would be entitled to from their PCT and said that if FURs were not forthcoming they should go back to their PCT and ask why.

Dr Donal Hynes, vice chair of the NHS Alliance, said the low FURs finding might not be technically correct – but if there was a widespread perception that FURs were not being distributed this could be damaging and a lack of a sense of ‘ownership' of FURs was telling.

He said: ‘Most practices are now part of a consortium and if the reinvestment has not gone to my practice but to, say, a community diabetes service, then I might say I've not seen any – but the consortium has.'

The survey, conducted between October and November 2009, asked 466 lead individuals in PBC groups and practices for their views of PBC. The previous PBC surveys asked GP practices for their views of PBC.

Dr Donal Hynes