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Cash-strapped PCT claws back promised investment in practices after GPs make efficiency savings

A group of GP practices have lost up to £1m in funding promised for patient care after PCT managers ‘reneged' on a deal to hand GPs a slice of cost savings to invest back into frontline services.

Ten GP practices in Bury saved a combined £3.5m in 2009/10 as part of a PCT cost-cutting drive, on the basis that each practice would receive up to £100,000 of the savings to reinvest in patient care. But the PCT board backtracked on the agreement last September, telling GPs the payments were being withdrawn due to the PCT's deficit and sparking an ongoing row with local practices.

After repeatedly challenging the decision, LMC leaders have admitted they have exhausted all avenues of appeal, and have advised practices to take forward complaints individually – or swallow the loss.

One Bury GP, who asked not to be named, told Pulse: ‘These ten practices worked hard to save the money. They saved £3.5 million for the PCT who then turned round and told them they wouldn't get their ‘bonus'. It wasn't a ‘bonus', it was a reward to reinvest in patient care to ultimately generate further savings.'

‘The PCT went back on their word and practices and patients have lost out.'

Contacted by Pulse, Bury and Rochdale LMC said it had written to the PCT ‘numerous times' over the last year regarding the issue, without success.

Dr Mohammed Jiva, LMC chair and a GP in Middleton, said: ‘The PCT has reneged on an agreement that GPs have delivered in good faith. Ultimately the people that have lost out are the patients in those practices. We wrote to the PCT asking them to at least compensate the practices for the manpower and resources they put into making the savings but they rejected that.'

‘As an LMC we have taken this as far as we can, we have been in discussion with the PCT for well over a year now. We have now told practices to decide individually whether they want to take complaints forward as we have exhausted all avenues as an LMC.'

‘The PCT wants to press on now with other agendas like clinical commissioning. I've told them that it is difficult for GP practices to work with them in good faith if they won't be transparent about agreements they made with GPs in the past.'

An NHS Bury spokesperson said the promised payments had not been made due to ‘the financial position of the organisation and the need to take significant actions'.

‘The NHS Bury board made the decision,' she said. ‘Communication with the practices took place at the time and subsequent correspondence was dealt with receipt.'