Wirral Doctors Get Unexpected £1m Windfall For Social Services

AN APOLOGY was issued to GPs after a Primary Care Trust put more than a million pounds into their accounts without warning.

Doctors across Wirral found their coffers boosted by as much as £44,000.

But with no paperwork or prior warning, many had no idea what the money was for.

They later found out it was a social fund to spend on patients who needed quick access to help usually provided by social services – such as home medical equipment.

Correspondence seen by the ECHO showed 61 practices on the peninsula received the payments, which totalled £1.2m.

The initiative was mentioned at a recent health care commissioning event.

But doctors had no idea the money would appear with no explanation as to how to use it.

Some said they were ill-equipped to make such decisions and could not act as social care providers and threatened to send the money back.

Dr Alan Roberts, of Wallasey’s Grove Medical Centre, said: “I think it’s a good idea, but it’s execution has been poor.

“There are times when we think it would be great to find someone a bed or help with a stairlift because there is a limit on how quickly social services can act.

“Our practice has decided to hold on to the money before making a decision after a wider discussion.

“The problem is we are not social workers and the infrastructure doesn’t exist for us to act like them.”

A Wirral PCT spokesman said: “We have issued a letter setting out the reason for providing resources to purchase additional services for patients and offering an apology that this has not been communicated as effectively as it should.

“The intention is to give practices a small resource to enable you to buy things such as a temporary nursing home bed, some support for a carer who may be struggling to cope, or small pieces of equipment to help someone in their own home.

“These ideas have been things GPs have suggested would be helpful to allow them better to support patients at home and prevent them having to be admitted to hospital unnecessarily.”

He said the intention was to be innovative in response to GP requests as well as to supplement Social Services rather than replace them.