GPs to challenge cut in minor injuries pay

GPs in Suffolk are considering legal action against their PCT for cutting funding for minor injuries from the £50 per contact agreed in the GMS contract to just £8.

GPs say Suffolk West PCT told practices it could only afford to pay £23.50 per contact in 2005/6 and capped the number of patients who could be seen.

Practices accepted this because the PCT was overspent.

Last month, the PCT invited practices to tender for minor injury services.

Haverhill GP Dr Neville Selby said that the PCT implied it had other bidders who would do the work for less than the current rate if GPs would not.

Although they originally bid £21, a lot of practices accepted £8 per contact.

Dr Selby's practice and one other in the area refused to take on the service at that price, leaving 14,000 patients without a minor injury service. The practice has now been told by the PCT to send all patients needing minor injury treatment to the A&E department, 16 miles away.

As a result, Dr Selby said they received no funding for the majority of patients who decide to be treated at the surgery.

'It is ridiculous that, just as we are trying to offer more services in primary care, the PCT is saying this treatment should be done in the hospital,' he said.

'It is because it has a block contract with the A&E department and is trying to save money.'

Dr Selby said the ambulance and hospital trusts in the area were annoyed because they were effectively subsidising treatment of minor injuries.

He said the effective cost for a nurse consultation at the hospital was £61, plus transport, which was more than what was paid by the PCT under the bulk contract.

Dr Selby has written to the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire SHA to ask about the legal position and is considering contacting the Audit Commission.

'The Audit Commission might have more sway if the PCT is in breach of contract conditions,' he said.

'We're basically subsidising the NHS. We're not being paid for this and don't know if we ever will be.'

Dr Selby understood a similar situation existed in Suffolk East PCTs.

A spokesman for Suffolk East PCTs said: 'We are exploring a different approach for future arrangements, which might involve the locality commissioning groups.' He would not confirm how much GPs were paid.

Nobody at Suffolk West PCT was available for comment.

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