Published: 24/02/2005, Volume II5, No. 5944 Page 6

NHS boards in Scotland will have to foot the bill for a£48m black hole in funding allocated to meet new contracts for GPs and consultants.

The Scottish Executive has ruled out giving extra cash to employers, despite earlier assurances that the contracts would be fully funded.

Instead NHS boards are expected to meet the increased costs from their overall budgets.

This week the director of the Scottish NHS Confederation called on the Scottish Executive to give support to NHS boards if they had to stop other activities because of contract costs.

Hilary Robertson said: 'Most of the money given to NHS boards in their budgets is already committed by the time they receive it. This£48m is a significant dent in the money which is left over.

'Boards are already facing considerable cost pressures and I would hope there would be support from the centre if they have to stop doing other things to meet the increased bill.' The figures were revealed in papers sent to the Scottish Parliament's audit committee by Dr Kevin Woods, the new chief executive of NHS Scotland and head of the Scottish Executive Health Department.

This week the Scottish Executive confirmed that projected costs for the general medical services contract had risen from£53m to£85m for the current financial year.

This is made up of£14m for extra costs associated with out-of-hours and£18m to meet commitments under the quality and outcomes framework, which rewards practices for quality of service delivery.

Projected costs for the consultant contract have risen from£63m to£70m for the year 2003-04 (to cover back-pay) and from£22m to£31m for the current financial year.