Doctors write off big debt

A DOCTORS' co-operative has given the equivalent of almost £170,000 to health chiefs after a shake-up in who provides emergency health cover at nights and weekends. The North Somerset Out of Hours Co-operative has written off debts and given equipment to

A DOCTORS' co-operative has given the equivalent of almost £170,000 to health chiefs after a shake-up in who provides emergency health cover at nights and weekends.The North Somerset Out of Hours Co-operative has written off debts and given equipment to North Somerset Primary Care Trust (PCT) after it awarded the out-of- hours contract to a private company called Harmoni.Most of the sum is made up of the £145,000 monthly fee the cash-strapped PCT failed to pay the doctors' co-operative for delivering the service in March. The co-operative has also donated £22,000 worth of office and medical equipment used at the out-of-hours GP centre at Weston General Hospital to the PCT.The doctors' co-operative ran the out-of-hours service for patients until a Hertfordshire-based outfit, Harmoni, took over responsibility with a £2million contract. Under the new out-of-hours service, which started on April 1, doctors working for the firm cover emergency call-outs and staff the GP centres in Weston and Clevedon on weekday nights and weekends.Co-operative spokesman Dr George Papworth said: "We made an agreement to give any excess cash to the PCT and this was supposed to have been enshrined in a contract. But we never received a contract, just a letter of intent. "The worst part was the PCT did not even indicate it was going to miss a monthly payment. "After 11 years, we wish to thank all those people who have had contact with us for their help, co-operation and good humour."A PCT spokesman said: "We await details of the final accounts from NSOOH and if it does return a surplus of £167,000, it will be extremely welcome.


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