Rural GPs are not getting promised cash, says BMA

20 Apr 00
The Department of Health came under fire from the British Medical Association this week following claims that doctors had been misled over the distribution of cash designed to ease the burden on GPs in rural areas.

21 April 2000

Last year, a £2m fund was allocated to GPs in isolated areas to help them develop their out-of-hours services. These doctors are often the most stretched in the evening and at night because there are fewer of them covering greater distances than their urban counterparts. Rural doctors are on call more often, and few can hire a GP deputising service, which is more common in urban areas.

The £2m annual fund was set up to pay for initiatives to ease this pressure. But the BMA said that this year the money would be allocated according to numbers of patients, making it just as likely that the cash would go to urban areas. Last year the money was specifically targeted at the countryside. The Department of Health said money would go to those who needed it most.

Dr John Chisholm, chairman of the BMA GPs' committee, said he was 'angry and dismayed' at a move that could reduce the quality of patient care. He has asked for an urgent meeting with health minister John Denham. He added: 'This unilateral decision to redistribute the £2m could well affect patient care.

'If last year's out-of-hours initiatives fail through lack of funding this year, it could mean family doctors doing more and more night calls on top of their full daytime commitments. This will mean patients being seen by tired, overworked GPs.'


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