GPC warns of DoH plan to 'scrap general practice'

Practice incomes will be 1 per cent less than any projected expenses rise over the next five years, according to the DoH.

Andy Burnham: five-year plan outlines a change in tariff payments
Andy Burnham: five-year plan outlines a change in tariff payments

This means that practices will have to find 'efficiency gains' of 1 per cent just to keep income at current levels.

The DoH's latest five-year plan, 'NHS 2010-15: From Good to Great', also says QOF needs 'significant reform' to make it tougher.

The Review Body and NHS Employers may be asked to consider even more demanding efficiency requirements for GP practices, the document says.

QOF will remain unchanged in 2010/11 due to pandemic flu workload, but beyond then performance thresholds will be raised to squeeze more from GPs.

Launching the document in London last month, health secretary Andy Burnham said the plans were 'gritty and real- istic', and would focus minds on 'patient-centred' care and preventing illness.

At the heart of the new strategy is a change in tariff payments, shifting hospital incentives towards patient satisfaction and moving services closer to home. Up to 10 per cent of hospital income may be linked to patient satisfaction, said Mr Burnham.

He also raised the possibility of the best acute trusts expanding to offer community and even GP services.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said the call for acute trusts to run GP services signals the health secretary's desire to 'get rid of general practice completely'.

He added: 'He wants to get rid of general practice, that's what he wants - anyone doing general practice except GPs.

'They want to make practices into bigger and bigger conglomerates and they want to get any willing provider in and get rid of small practices.'

Dr David Jenner, GMS lead at the NHS Alliance, said acute trusts should run GP services only where it is proven to be in the public interest.

The Review Body is still expected to make its report to ministers next month.

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