Letter: Fundholding: bureaucratic and expensive

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Sir: Our practice, the Highcliffe Medical Centre, which has the highest percentage of elderly patients in the country, and which consequently is perennially underfunded, went fundholding in 1993.

Since that time our patients, many of whom find travelling to hospital difficult, have been able to attend NHS physiotherapy, chiropody, dermatology, ultrasound testing, prostate screening, counselling, psychology support, and phlebotomy all at the practice. To this is shortly to be added audiology testing.

In addition they have a fully empowered Patient Participation Group closely involved in the strategic planning of practice development.

This year our total budget is likely to be overspent by a few thousand pounds. No doubt the Audit Commission would regard our experiment a failure. We doubt whether those patients who have benefited from the convenience of these services would agree.

Dr R C GILBERTSON

Highcliffe Medical Centre

Christchurch, Dorset

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