Wales’s policy of providing annual health checks for people with learning difficulties is in jeporardy, it was alleged last week, after a redistribution of funding by the country’s Labour administration.
The British Medical Association Wales said that an assembly government decision for “enhanced GP services”, which include the checks, to be commissioned locally rather than nationally had put the policy at risk.
The assembly government transferred the £6.2m earmarked for the services for 2007-8 to local health boards, rather than commissioning them directly from GPs. But the BMA fears that boards will use it to help pay off their debts, which stood at £24m in December 2006, saying arrangements had not been made to ensure it was spent on enhanced services.
Other initiatives allegedly at risk include the provision by GPs of information on the background to people’s mental health problems to secondary care teams.
Dr Andrew Dearden, chair of the BMA’s Welsh GPs committee, predicted there would be “bedlam” with certain enhanced services being provided only in parts of Wales, not all.
A spokesperson from Disability Wales, a service user-led and run organisation, said: “We are very unhappy about this, particularly as disabled people don’t have the same standard of health care as others.”
The Welsh Labour party said the GPs committee had rejected a national commissioning arrangement for enhanced services in 2007-8, prompting the government to fund the services through the boards. However, the BMA countered that it was offered a package reduced by £5m.
A Labour spokesperson said further decisions on the issue would be for the new assembly government, which will take office on 4 May.
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