GP leaders have accused health boards of ‘double standards’ after it was revealed NHS-run practices could be funded up to a third extra per head compared to GP-run surgeries.
LMCs in Wales were told that Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board funds LHB-run practices an additional £29 annually per patient.
North Wales-based GP Dr Alison Hughes revealed the funding differential at the the Welsh Conference of Representatives of Local Medical Committees in Chester last weekend during a debate on the issue.
She said that the ‘inequity’ was unjustifiable, but a Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board spokesperson – which runs one practice and is due to take over three others shortly – said that the funding was for extra staff.
A BMA analysis last year revealed that ten practices in Wales are now under health board control and a further eight were‘at risk’.
A motion at the Welsh LMCs meeting called for the additional resources and support put into LHB-managed practices to be ‘equitably made available to independent contractor practices to prevent them from collapsing in the first place.’ The motion was passed unanimously.
Dr Hughes said: ‘Why do LHBs think it is ok to pour money into practices that they are running but refuse to give support to employ more staff to keep practices on the brink from going under? We condemn their short-sightedness and the inequity and the double standards that we have between LHB-run practices and GMS.’
Gwent LMC vice-chair Dr Deborah Waters said of the extra £29 per patient: ‘That’s an enormous amount of money – if we all had that what could we do with it? There are double standards.’
A Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board spokesperson said the organisation is running one practice in Blaenau Ffestiniog and will take on another in Wrexham in September after the Pen-y-Maes Health Centre announced plans to close. Two practices in Prestatyn have gone under and replacement services will be run by the health board from April, he added.
‘It is not a valid comparison to look at the costs of running an LHB-managed practice with costs of running other practices. We have to put in extra money for locums, nurses and pharmacists.’
Betsi Cadwaladr is running the Blaenau Ffestiniog practice on a long term basis but wants to return the others to private contractors as soon as it can, said the spokesperson.