GPs warn 'perverse' cuts will deepen A&E crisis

GP leaders have warned 'perverse' and 'short-sighted' funding cuts by CCGs could deepen the A&E crisis.

Dr John Hughes: cuts are short-sighted
Dr John Hughes: cuts are short-sighted

Funding for a ‘same-day access’ scheme run by local practices to take pressure off urgent care services has been withdrawn by CCGs across Greater Manchester.

Manchester LMC’s honorary secretary, Dr John Hughes, said CCGs had made the decision without consulting practices, which only found out about the cut when they received no payment in April.

The local enhanced service had been devolved to CCGs from PCTs, but Dr Hughes said the NHS England area team had given an assurance that it would be continued for 12 months, with a possible review after six months.

The LMC was told by the CCGs, which include the North, Central and South Manchester CCGs, that the LES was not value for money.

‘We think it is a rather stupid and short-sighted idea to save a few pence,’ said Dr Hughes.

The service included practices guaranteeing appointments even when surgeries were full, and setting up systems for A&E departments to send non-emergency cases back to see their GP.

Dr Hughes explained: ‘My own practice, with a list of 4,000, we would regularly see 3 or 4 patients every surgery, plus some extra phone consultations, on the basis of this. So there is a reasonably significant workload involved.’

He said practices could lose ‘a couple of thousand pounds’ each.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘At a time when the focus has been on providing better access to patients to help reduce the demand on urgent care services this decision to remove funding from practices willing to offer enhanced access seems perverse.’

He added: ‘Practices that are already seriously struggling to manage their workload can ill-afford any further damaging cuts.’

Earlier this month, one prominent GP called for practices to help reduce pressure on A&E by declaring themselves ‘never full’ during core hours.

NHS England said: 'The NHS England Area Team for Greater Manchester has been working closely with the Manchester CCGs to identify options for the continuation of the same day access enhanced services. These discussions are at an advanced stage and we are hopeful that a satisfactory conclusion can be reached.'

Dr Peter Fink, urgent care lead for South Manchester CCG, added: 'The transition from PCTs to CCGs has revealed some unexpected challenges  to existing funding streams which support primary care service provision. As CCG clinical leads, we have been working closely with the area team on this issue and believe that we are close to reaching a successful conclusion. This will offer significant benefits to local people, provide high quality same day care in general practice and support the effective operation of our unscheduled care system.'

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