Extra £50m to improve service access

PCTs are to increase investment in local enhanced services (LESs) by 20 per cent - although the money is likely to be directed at improving access.

The increase in LES budgets will be funded by £50 million of the £105 million extra investment promised by the DoH during contract negotiations.

A letter from NHS director general Mark Britnell to SHA and PCT chief executives suggests that the investment should be used to improve services where patient satisfaction levels are lower than others, like advance booking of GP appointments.

A 'GP access team' at the DoH will be advising PCTs on other ways to use the funding.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the investment was a 'relatively small amount of money', but was pleased the decision on how to spend it was being left to PCTs.

'We knew it would go towards enhanced services, although we thought there would be significantly more strings attached to this money.'

Dr Vautrey said it was possible that PCTs could increase the fees they pay for services GPs already provide, but PCTs would probably prefer to expand their current range of LESs.

The rest of the £105 million will fund a £50 million set of clinical directed enhanced services (DESs) and £5 million will fund an increase in the global sum.

Final details of the five clinical DESs for England, covering osteoporosis, heart failure, alcohol misuse, learning disabilities and improved recording of ethnicity data, were unveiled earlier this month on Healthcare Republic 

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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