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GPs fail to help with appointments audit

Primary care trusts have been unable to complete an audit of the number of GP appointments provided by practices because GPs have refused to hand over the information, following British Medical Association advice.

The audit of appointment times was requested in a letter from Mark Britnell, Department of Health director general of commissioning and service management, on 30 January. It was due to be completed by 3 March.

The DH has admitted it received very little information. The BMA had advised GPs they did not have to comply with the request.

A snap poll of 15 PCTs by HSJ has revealed that most reported a response rate of 10-20 per cent.

West Hertfordshire, Camden, Rotherham, Bristol, Sheffield, Southampton City, Sutton and Merton, Brighton and Hove City, and Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale all reported a low response rate.

Norfolk PCT experienced the worst problems, with only three of its 93 practices providing the information. PCTs that managed to collate most or all of the information include Derby City, Bromley, Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire and Coventry, but all admitted they had the data before the request for the audit.

A spokeswoman for Dudley PCT said it had not asked for the information at this time because it did not want to "cloud" its relationship with local GPs. NHS East of England set PCTs a 17 March deadline to complete the audit, so they could collect the information after the result of the GP vote on extended hours had been revealed.

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