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Widespread support for wiping PCT debts

By Gareth Iacobucci

GPs have overwhelmingly backed Pulse’s campaign calling for consortia to start with a clean slate when they take on commissioning, with nine out of 10 believing it would be unfair to ask GPs to inherit PCT debts.

In a snapshot survey of 200 GPs, three-quarters said they would be less likely to become actively involved in commissioning if their consortium was burdened with its local trust’s debts.

The results demonstrate the strength of feeling among GPs over one of the most contentious aspects of the Government’s NHS reforms, and are likely to concern health secretary Andrew Lansley. Mr Lansley last week admitted to Pulse that consortia would be ‘set up to fail’ if they began in deficit, but nevertheless made it clear that the Government would not write off debts racked up by PCTs.

Pulse’s campaign for no GPs to begin their commissioning responsibility with an inherited debt was backed by 85% of GPs responding to our survey, with 11% saying they did not back the campaign and 4% unsure.

Dr Catti Moss, a GP in Guilsborough, Northamptonshire, was among those GPs to sign up.

She said: ‘No major change can possibly have a chance of succeeding if it has its hands tied at the beginning. While I sympathise with a cash-strapped government, I feel it would be cheaper in the longer term to make sure everyone starts with an even playing field, free of debt and surplus.’

Dr Adrian Richardson, a GP in Harrow, also backed the campaign. He said: ‘This is a bit like the population having to the bear the consequences of bankers misdemeanours – grossly unfair, particularly as if we had been given in the opportunity I am not sure GPs would have invested as PCTs did in the past, often in projects that have taken investment away from general practice.’

Dr Catti Moss Click here to find out more about the campaign and pledge support A clean slate Making your consortia a success

Find out what steps your practice should be taking to prepare for GP commissioning at the Essential Commissioning Skills seminar on 15 Feb and 3 March – more information here.