Welsh practices lose half DES income

The vast majority of practices in Wales can maintain at least half of the income they received for Wales-specific directed enhanced services (DESs) last year, after deals between LMCs and local health boards (LHBs).

But GPC leaders believe that up to a third of practices could refuse to carry out some enhanced services in protest at the pay freeze on global sum income.

Welsh practices were preparing for losses of up to £18,000 per average practice in 2006/7, after all Wales-specific DESs were cut when negotiations between GPC Wales and the Welsh Assembly government collapsed in March.

The DESs covered IT, access, learning disabilities and mental health.

LHBs were asked by health ministers to offer the defunct DESs on a local basis, but GP leaders feared most would divert the cash to other priorities.

The majority of LHBs have recently sent letters to practices offering versions of last year's Welsh DESs for mental health, learning disabilities and access.

However, enhanced services income will still drop significantly overall for 2006/7 because the IT DES was a one-year deal and LHBs have been ordered to drop the patient questionnaire element of last year's access DES, worth up to £5,000.

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