One in five GPs will withdraw existing services for alcohol and
drug misusers when they start working under the new GP contract
from 1 April, research has shown.
Forty-two per cent of GPs would opt out of providing “enhanced
services” of some sort under the new contract, with substance
misusers the worst affected, according to a survey of 300 GPs
carried out by Community Care’s sister magazine Doctor. Enhanced
services also cover specialist services for the homeless and asylum
Libby Ranzetta, an expert with the London Drug and Alcohol Network,
said that GPs saw the new contract as a “golden opportunity” to
ditch difficult client groups.
GPs blame the need to opt out of providing enhanced services on
primary care trusts failing to offer them sufficient money to fully
reimburse their costs for offering such services. Fears about the
cutbacks were first raised last summer as it became clear that
inner city PCTs in particular would be unable to pay the
£200-500 annual fee per patient to GPs for providing enhanced
services (news, page 8, 14 August ).
But Dr Andrew Dearden, chairperson of the British Medical
Association’s community care committee, said many GPs currently did
not provide enhanced services. The new contract could improve
services by developing specialist GP-run clinics for these groups
on a PCT-wide basis, he added.