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Ministers poised to erase PCT debt next week

By Ian Quinn

The Government is set to erase PCTs' debt when they hand over to GP consortia after coming under strong pressure from Pulse's A Clean Slate campaign and questioning from a GP elected as a Conservative MP.

A Conservative party source suggested consortia would not be expected to inherit historical PCT debt in 2013, although they would have to deal with any deficits they generated themselves.

The policy U-turn is due to be announced in the upcoming NHS Operating Framework. It is set to mark victory for Pulse's campaign, which has called on the Government to ensure all residual PCT debts are cleared so consortia begin their commissioning responsibilities on an even footing.

The Government faced tough questioning on the issue at the latest Commons health committee meeting from former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston, Conservative MP for Totnes. Dr Wollaston told health secretary Andrew Lansley some PCTs were in financial ‘meltdown'.

‘We've seen some practices not wanting to join together because of concerns about debt. Would you be able to give them reassurance?' she asked.

Mr Lansley told her it was ‘premature' for GPs to be worried about debts they might inherit in two and half a years. But Pulse's source said the Government was now prepared to act after being influenced by the A Clean Slate campaign and the level of GP concern.

Dr Sarah Wollaston Click here for more about our campaign

A clean slate