GPC bid to extend DESs to prevent funding loss

GPs 'livid' as delays mean some practices have been unable to take part in 2008/9 DESs.

The GPC hopes to extend the five clinical directed enhanced services (DESs) in England for an extra year to recover millions of pounds of unspent funding.

Negotiators across the UK are working on deals to guarantee funding will not be lost where DESs were set up late.

In England, talks have begun to extend the two-year DES deal, worth £50 million over 2008/9 and 2009/10, into 2010/11.

The DESs were introduced in England just six weeks before the end of 2008/9 and GPs in some PCTs still cannot take part in all of them.

The DESs were part of the DoH's promise of £105 million for primary care in 2008/9 that disappeared almost entirely into enhanced services.

In addition to the clinical DESs, £5 million went into core pay, and another £50 million was allocated for local enhanced services. But there is little evidence PCTs have spent this on GP services, the GPC says.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said: 'If you cannot get the money, it is not exactly a pay rise.'

Dr Buckman said GPs will want answers about where the money went at this year's LMCs conference in June.

'I think GPs will be absolutely livid about this and would hope that ministers will give us something to allow us to respond to them,' he said. 'To the credit of NHS Employers, it recognises it was unfair that GPs' pay award never happened.'

At last month's Northern Irish LMCs conference, GPs described pay for their £2.7 million clinical DESs as 'insulting'. As in England, the DESs were rolled out near the year end.

Chairman of GPC Northern Ireland, Dr Brian Dunn will decide after DES earnings are published whether to ask for unspent cash to be recycled.

In Wales, GPs said local health boards 'squandered' their £6.4 million clinical DES package as 2008/9 ended.

GPC Wales chairman Dr David Bailey said DESs would roll over indefinitely to ensure the cash was spent.

In Scotland, an £11 million DES deal came in a week before Christmas. GPC Scotland chairman Dr Dean Marshall said the Scottish government has pledged all the money will be spent this year.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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