Choice will weed out the poor practices, say Conservatives

Conservatives plan outcomes-based QOF and greater choice.

Greater patient choice means that poor practices will close, a Conservative health spokesman has said.

Shadow health minister Mark Simmonds told GP that the party wanted a more co-operative relationship between GPs and the government. 'But we need to strike a balance,' he said.

'We've got to attract good people into the profession, and pay and conditions should reflect that,' added Mr Simmonds.

'But we need to be aware that, if the patient has the choice of where they receive treatment, then weak providers will disappear because patients won't want to go there.'

About 10 per cent of practices are currently below par, he added.

Asked whether a Conservative government would continue to open GP services to alternative providers, Mr Simmonds said: 'We certainly need to think of innovative ways to narrow health inequalities.

'Where there is a significantly lower number of GPs per patient we need to ensure there are different models to meet demand.'

Mr Simmonds hinted at a larger expanding practice allowance to tackle open-but-full lists. 'We need a mechanism to make sure practices that are attracting patients have the resources to provide facilities.'

He said the party was committed to linking quality framework points to outcomes rather than processes.

The Conservatives have already chalked up one victory on GP-funding.

Earl Howe, the party's spokesman in the House of Lords, proposed an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill 'to ensure that the recommendations of the quality framework review panel cannot simply be ignored'.

The Darzi review committed the government to 'an independent and transparent process for developing and reviewing' the framework.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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