Funding fears for prevalence losers

Prevalence - Some PCOs in talks with practices, but none have confirmed financial support.

Not a single UK primary care organisation (PCO) has finalised funding arrangements to help practices hit by prevalence changes, according to the GPC.

At this week's annual LMCs conference in London, the GPC looks set to come under fire from GPs who are angry that it was left to practices to negotiate support from their PCOs.

Motions have been submitted stating that LMCs 'regret being asked to find a local solution to a national problem'.

Another 'deplores the considerable losses on practice incomes resulting from changes in the calculation of QOF prevalence and the failure of the negotiations to have estimated these shortfalls'.

Some PCOs still appear reluctant to help practices destabilised by large funding cuts, seven months after the move to raw prevalence funding was agreed in October 2008.

Londonwide LMCs joint chief executive Dr Michelle Drage urged PCT chiefs to meet with the capital's 'mega-losers' - mainly university practices - to organise alternative funding urgently.

She said NHS London was 'not interested' and one practice in London, due to lose £10,000 under the prevalence changes, had received a letter from its PCT ruling out alternative funding.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said that although PCOs were 'starting to move' in talks following his meeting with then health minister Ben Bradshaw in April, detailed financial support has not yet been finalised anywhere.

'There was an enormous surge of activity and there certainly has been a lot of talk, but I'm not sure there has been a lot of action. Have any practices got any money back? The answer is no,' he said.

Dr Irene Weinreb, a senior partner at Imperial College health centre, said she had met once with her PCT to discuss the practice's £60,000 loss.

'It's a significant amount of funding - it's equivalent to one member of staff,' she said.

'We don't feel like the PCT is going to abandon us, but it's too early to say how the services we provide will be recognised.

'We haven't come to any arrangements yet but it's likely to recognise services like mental health, sexual health and sports medicine, which most university practices provide.'

Funding cuts will take effect in June next year, when practices receive their QOF funding for 2009/10.

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