He told the House of Commons' health select committee on Thursday he can understand why GPs are ‘a bit ticked off that sometimes we seem to be pulling money back at the same time as asking them to do more'.
‘They do a good job and we've asked a lot more of them,' he admitted.
But he stopped short of offering GPs money to take up practice-based commissioning (PBC).
‘Doctors get by and large reasonably well paid, particularly if they are partner in a practice. I'm not sure I'm in the game of paying them a lot more money at the moment.'
Where PBC is working, it is working very well, he said.
‘We know that where practice-based commissioning is working, 80% of GPs say it is going well and 77% say they are being listened to.'
Emphatically, it is not 'a corpse not for resuscitation', he added.
‘We need to continue to breathe life into it and we may find it's up and dancing and providing a better quality of delivery.
‘I don't want to force people to be involved. I do want to encourage them.'
His message to GPs was that ‘the best way to do something about the quality of your local health service is to get involved with practice-based commissioning.'
Dr David Colin-Thomé, England's national clinical director for primary care, denied that he said practice-based commissioning was dead.
‘I said that where it wasn't working, it needed a kick up the backside.'