GPs will make rationing decisions under Tories

The Conservatives plan to strip NICE of its power to ration medicines and make GPs decide which treatments their patients have access to.

Shadow Conservative health secretary Andrew Lansley said GPs should be responsible for the cost of all clinical decisions they make. Speaking at an NHS Alliance World-Class Commissioning conference in London last week, Mr Lansley admitted GPs were anxious about the role and predicted that at least a third of GPs would not want such responsibility. Those GPs could employ private companies to make commissioning and buying decisions for them, he said.

NHS Alliance lead Dr David Jenner said it would land GPs with the most unpopular job in the health service and 'most GPs would run a mile'.

'Does that mean GPs are going to face each local challenge and legal review of what is available locally?' Dr Jenner asked.

Mr Lansley replied: 'If you make decisions in a way that is reasonable I think that will be reasonable defence against anything brought against you.'

The scheme would inevitably lead to differential services across the UK, he admitted.

'I cannot abolish a postcode lottery because you cannot abolish rationing - resources are finite,' he said.

He said GPs would decide which treatments are made available to patients, based on the assessments of NICE.

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