However, he tried to allay fears that indicators for obesity and alcohol would be forced into the framework, saying: ‘We won’t force any changes through on the quality framework.’
He said that any changes would go through the usual consultation processes with GPC negotiators.
Last month GPC deputy chairman, Dr Laurence Buckman, said that he did not think there was any evidence for these things to be included but said that he would happily discuss it (GP, 20 October).
His comments came after a follow-up report from the DoH’s primary care White Paper expressed a desire to include ‘health and wellbeing outcomes’ in the quality framework.
Mr Burnham also followed last week’s announcement of 30 pilot sites, where GPs would carry out minor operations, by saying that PCTs must help GPs to extend their practice premises as the government moves more work into the community.
GPs have criticised the plans to shift hospital work into general practice because of inadequate premises with GPC chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum saying that ‘significant pump-priming’ would be needed to make this happen.
However, Mr Burnham said ‘there is an obligation on PCTs to drive up standards of care in general practice and primary care and they should be doing that’.
He continued that he had seen a ‘quantum leap’ in the standard of premises in recent years but conceded that improvements in a practice he recently visited had only been possible following ‘considerable investment from the PCT’.
He said that the obligation to drive up standards should also be the motivation behind PCTs tendering practices to private providers.