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£35 per patient management allowance figure misleading, GPC claims

By Ian Quinn

The Government's announcement of an allowance of up to £35 per patient for GP consortia to run commissioning is misleading and the actual funding released will not be enough for many consortia to survive, GP leaders said today.

The claim came as the GPC stepped up its attack on the Government for ignoring its main concerns about the white paper and claimed the situation on the ground was in ‘chaos'.

Yesterday the NHS Operating Framework revealed consortia would receive an allowance for running costs of between £25 and £35 per patient by 2013, when they take over from PCTs.

However, reacting to the announcement today, the GPC warned that the figure was a gross sum which would cover infrastructure costs, rather than a reflection of the management allowance GPs would get, which they said was likely to be much less.

The GPC also attacked the £2 per head sum, which is the management allowance that will be available for shadow consortia, claiming it was similar to existing levels of PBC funding, and would not be enough for smaller consortia to successfully launch.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘The sum that has been revealed is a gross amount, not net. What's left for GP consortia to make it work is likely to be much less.'

The Government is still to come up with a list of exactly what responsibilities GPs will take on from PCTs but Dr Vautrey said the indications in its funding for shadow consortia were alarming.

The approximate figure of £2 per head, first revealed by Pulse last month, would only be a similar amount to existing PBC enhanced services funding, he said.

And despite the operating framework saying the £2 per head should be ‘in addition to and used alongside existing PBC funding', Dr Vautrey said the GPC feared in many cases PCTs would simply axe their previous funding leaving consortia to try to take on commissioning with little or no extra resources.

‘It's a relatively small amount of money and that will hit in particular the small consortia who had been given the impression that they could move ahead,' he said. 'On its own, £2 per patient won't be enough.'

The GPC has also accused the Government of creating havoc by insisting PCTs form into clusters during the transition to consortia.

‘We've now got two re-organisations going on, not just one,' said Dr Vautrey.

‘In some areas of the country there appears to be chaos. That's a deep concern at a time when we've been told we need to make savings of £15-20bn.'

Dr Richard Vautrey: Lansley's reforms are causing chaos Dr Richard Vautrey: Lansley's reforms are causing chaos