Surgery funding soars in Suffolk

FUNDING for Suffolk doctors' practices rose by more than £11million in just one year, it can be revealed today.

FUNDING for Suffolk doctors' practices rose by more than £11million in just one year, it can be revealed today.

With the county's health service plagued by hospital closures, cuts to services and job losses, a massive injection of cash has been a big boost to GP surgeries to achieve their targets.

A 20.9 per cent year-on-year increase occurred between the financial years 2003/04 and 2004/05.

The money came from government coffers in the same year the controversial GP contracts system was brought in.

In 03/04 practices in Suffolk were given £53,739,000 funding by the county's primary care trusts as opposed to £64,976,000 in 04/05 - a rise of £11,237,000.

The following financial year the money handed over to general practitioners only went up by 4.3pc to £67,824,000 according to figures issued by Suffolk Primary Care Trust (SPCT).

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The fiscal details relating to practices emerged after a Freedom of Information request by The Evening Star.

While health secretary Patricia Hewitt regrets that doctors' salaries were not capped by the government during its health service overhaul nearly three years ago, SPCT stressed the money has been used to improve services.

This includes employing more doctors and nurses to ensure government targets of waiting a maximum of 48 hours to see a doctor and 24 hours to see a nurse are met.

Doctors are now effectively subcontracted to primary care trusts and run their surgeries as companies, making a business case for their funding, out of which they pay their own salaries.

Melanie Craig, head of performance for SPCT, said: “The primary care trust's main driver is to ensure equity of patients throughout Suffolk. With all funding we give, there are strict targets GPs have to adhere to and monitoring goes on throughout the year to ensure they are using the funding for the targets agreed.

“In Suffolk we have a very high level of primary care provision. We have very high access and relatively few recruitment problems compared to the rest of the country.”

What do you think of the service your doctor's surgery provides? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

The highest amount of funding give to a single practice in Suffolk in 2005/06 was £2,639,000

The lowest amount of funding given to a single practice in Suffolk with more than two doctors was £394,000

The funding takes into account the number of patients in the practice, how many GPs it has, its location, how many branches it may have and the services it can provide

There are around 70 surgeries in Suffolk.

The average amount of funding per practice in 2005/06 was between £950,000 and £980,000

The British Medical Association said that in 2004/05 the average annual salary of a self-employed non-dispensing GP was £95,000

Salaried GPs earn less than GP principals in practices.

ON June 20, 2003 GPs accepted a new General Medical Services (GMS) contract, negotiated by the British Medical Association (BMA) and the NHS Confederation. Rewards were to be given for quality of care, and incentives provided to treat patients at the surgery rather than at the hospital.

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