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GP commissioners receive £100m for extra winter services

GP commissioners will receive up to £100 million in extra funding to curb the pressure on NHS hospitals this winter, the Government announced this week.

The Department of Health said GP commissioners should use the cash to ‘improve local services and reduce pressures on the NHS during the colder months.’

It suggested clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) could use the funding to extend GP practice opening times, improve local arrangements with nursing homes and provide more effective urgent care cover.

In the first half of 2011-12 PCTs delegated around £29 billion of funds to CCGs. But the DH said this week’s announcement marks the first time CCGs have been directly handed funding to spend on patient services.

Despite handing funds directly to GP commissioners, the DH said PCTs would need to authorise how CCGs decide to spend the money. The DH also said that CCGs need to allocate their funding by the middle of February, with any unused funding returned to the DH ‘to spend on patient care elsewhere in the NHS.’

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘This is the first time emerging CCGs – made up of GPs and other local clinical professionals – have been given money to spend on services for patients.’

‘This additional funding, available due to good management of the Department’s central budgets, will harness the expertise of local clinicians who know better than anyone, what their patients need.’

Dr Shane Gordon, chief executive officer at North East Essex CCG, said:‘This funding will ensure that the quality and speed of health services in our area is maintained during the winter.’

‘As a local GP, I work with patients and colleagues in our CCG; together we plan our health services to deliver the best possible care to our population. The extra funds are a welcome boost during a demanding part of the year.’