APMS will 'leach' cash from GMS practices

The 250 new APMS health centres proposed in Lord Darzi's interim report will eventually leach funds from existing practices, according to GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey.

The £250 million access fund for the centres will barely cover the new centres' initial set-up and the long-term running costs will have to come out of PCTs' budgets, said Dr Vautrey.

'It is simple maths really, and the numbers don't add up. We are effectively talking about £250 million for 250 surgeries.

'When you consider the cost of staffing, equipping and building these centres, I'm not sure it will even be enough to set up a practice in the short term. It effectively means the ongoing running cost is paid from the PCT's existing annual budget, meaning less money for other practices', added the GPC deputy chairman.

Previously, health minister Ben Bradshaw said it would not necessarily be one new APMS practice per PCT from the DoH's £250 million access fund, and that the government would discuss what else it could do to improve access, indicating that practices could use some of the access fund for opening extended hours (GP, 30 November).

But Dr Vautrey said the government now seemed adamant that the access fund would not be used to fund extended hours for existing practices, or in areas where a polyclinic or supersurgery was not suitable.

The fund will also pay for the 150 supersurgeries proposed in the junior health minister Lord Darzi's interim report. All 250 surgeries will open extended hours and use APMS contracts.

The overall aim of the new centres and the access fund is to overcome health inequalities and improve access to GPs.

The GPC has previously warned that the 'polyclinic model' will mean greater distances to travel for patients.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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