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Mission implausible SCOTLAND


A Scottish Government spokesperson says it has committed £60m over three years for practices ‘facing challenges’, and an extra £25m for primary care in the 2016/17 budget, including £2.5m for GP recruitment and retention. But RCGP Scotland chair Dr Miles Mack has accused ministers of seeing general practice as ‘dispensable’. An analysis by the college of the draft 2016/17 budget put the real-terms increase for general practice in Scotland at 1.9%, compared with 3.8% for health boards. Dr Mack said a rising population and the workforce crisis would affect access to GPs, and patients had ‘every right to worry’. He warned ‘the tipping point is passing rapidly by – increasingly I fear that is deemed acceptable by our elected leaders’.


CUMBRIA AND NORTH EAST


Region is allocated £463,718 in emergency GP funding by NHS England. Dr Kamal Sidhu, a GP partner in County Durham, says no practice has been informed yet about how it will be spent. He is sceptical about the benefi ts: ‘Our locality, including my practice, has lost signifi cant amounts through PMS reviews alone without taking into consideration other funding pressures. Hence, this funding scheme is nothing more than a whitewash.’


NORTHERN IRELAND


A spokesperson for the Health and Social Care Board said it offered assistance to a number of GP practices in extenuating circumstances ‘on an interim basis’. He said: ‘The level of assistance is subject to legal agreement and cannot be disclosed.’


WALES


Last year, a BMA analysis found 10 practices had been placed under health board control, covering a total of almost 50,000 patients. GPC Wales chair Dr Charlotte Jones said this was an expensive way of providing primary care, requiring a ‘disproportionate amount of external management.’ She warned eight more practices were at risk. However, as part of contract negotiations, the GPC and the Welsh Government agreed on a scheme that allowed vulnerable practices to bid for support from health boards. The help could be in the form of funding or extra staff, for example a practice nurse.


SOUTH WEST


NHS England has allocated £273,007 in emergency funding, with 38 practices set to benefi t, but this includes many pushed to the brink by brutal PMS cuts. Paul Cawkwell, a practice manager in Bridgwater, Somerset, says: ‘NHS England is not doing anything to sustain us, they’re taking away.’


WEST MIDLANDS


Region is receiving £562,018. However, Dr Uzma Ahmed, assistant medical secretary of Walsall LMC, says the LMC has not been contacted. ‘Nobody has consulted us from the area team or the CCGs – we only found out about the fund two days before the deadline. I am not happy. They get the money, don’t involve us and the same money gets used on something else.’


SOUTH CENTRAL


Last July, NHS England appointed 21 NHS and private providers to step in and take over the running of struggling GP practices at short notice in the south of England. The area team has been allocated £664,193 for its vulnerable practices.


Pulse February 2016 17


BEN JENNINGS


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