GPs to take on commissioning by 2011

The GP contract is to be renegotiated and all local service reforms halted until they have the support of local GPs, the government said last week.

Andrew Lansley: We are committed to developing power to the people, patients, GPs and councils best placed to shape local NHS services (Photograph: Rex Features)
Andrew Lansley: We are committed to developing power to the people, patients, GPs and councils best placed to shape local NHS services (Photograph: Rex Features)

The coalition's first detailed policy document, Our Programme for Government, pledges to incentivise GPs to improve access in deprived areas and tackle public health.

Meanwhile health secretary Andrew Lansley called a halt to all NHS changes set in motion under Labour. He said changes must be evidence based and backed by local GPs.

'We are committed to devolving power to the people, patients, GPs and councils best placed to determine the nature of their local NHS services,' he said.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey was confident a 'shared agreement' could be reached on handing commissioning responsibility to GPs by next year. But the DoH could not confirm whether GPs would receive cash budgets, a Tory manifesto commitment absent from the coalition document.

The GPC has not discussed with the coalition how the contract or practice boundaries will change. Dr Vautrey said incentives to boost access in deprived areas must be 'workable and long-term'. Previous ideas such as golden handshakes had not been effective, he said.

Dr Vautrey also said public health targets should not enter QOF without robust evidence.

'Passing the public health buck to GPs would not be appropriate, wise or a good use of scarce NHS resources,' he said.

Policy experts called for clarity on GP commissioning. Tony Blair's former health adviser Paul Corrigan said the coalition may have to 'nationalise GPs' to make them more accountable.

The coalition document says there will be a '24/7 urgent care service in every area' but there is no mention of prime minister David Cameron's pre-election pledge to make GPs open from 8am until 8pm every day. Tory plans for an independent NHS board will go ahead.

The freeze on Labour reforms looks set to disrupt PCTs reorganising community services.

David Stout, chairman of the NHS Confederation's PCT Network, said the move was a 'gesture against the last government'.

He said it was not clear what the 'burden of proof' would be to prove a plan had GP support.

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