Exclusive - PCTs raid funds to build polyclinics

GP budgets raided for 'unnecessary' polyclinics as DoH offers inadequate funds.

PCTs will have to use their own budgets to pay for polyclinics because the £250 million DoH access fund is not enough, GP can reveal.

Every PCT must provide a new polyclinic, regardless of need, according to the DoH's 2008/9 operating framework.

The information confirms the GPC's concern that there was not enough new money to fund the projects and existing services would suffer.

The £250 million access fund was announced last year to pay for 100 new APMS practices in under-doctored areas and a polyclinic in every PCT. The GPC warned that the £250 million would barely cover the cost of the buildings and that running costs would leech money from PCTs' budgets.

A DoH spokeswoman said funding for the polyclinics would be provided to PCTs through their general allocations. She said that £210 million would be invested in GP surgeries for under-doctored areas over the next four years. That leaves just £40 million to cover 150 new polyclinics in England.

Polyclinic costs vary but one PCT in Suffolk estimated that it would spend £850,000 in the first year.

A spokeswoman from Bolton PCT confirmed that its polyclinic would be funded 'from money within our baseline'.

Eastern and Coastal Kent PCT also confirmed 'the main funding will come from the PCT's own budget'.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said the DoH had always intended to move funds from PMS and GMS services, and local enhanced services.

'It has been very difficult to work out what was new money here. No one else who wants to build something will get anything and money will go to new providers,' he said.

Health minister Lord Darzi recommended polyclinics as part of his review of the NHS in England. They will use APMS contracts, open from 8am until 8pm up to seven days a week, and offer diagnostics and walk-in services.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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