Practices struggle to plan as DoH holds up 1.5% rise

Practices are unable to budget for 2008/9 because the DoH has yet to outline how they can qualify for a share of the promised increase in funding.

The new contract arrangements that came into force on 1 April should have inclu- ded the 1.5 per cent funding increase that the government pledged during contract negotiations.

Part of this increase will involve the Doctors and Dentists Review Body's recommendations. The remainder is likely to be tied to specific enhanced services.

The DoH received the Review Body's report on 27 February but, as GP went to press, a DoH spokesman was unable to say when it would be published.

'The government's response will be backdated to 1 April,' he added.

It is unclear whether enhanced service payments will also be backdated.

GPC members suspect that the delay is due to wider government pay policy. Other public sector workers are facing staged pay increases as the government attempts to tackle inflation.

But the delay leave practices uncertain which services to plan in order to qualify for the full funding increase.

Dr John Grenville, secretary of Derbyshire LMC, said: 'If a free-standing business were to run itself in this way, so that it couldn't make financial planning decisions, all hell would break loose.'

The 1.5 per cent is guaranteed in England and Scotland, while Wales has yet to sign up and Northern Ireland will match the Review Body award only.

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