He told the House of Commons health select committee that he could understand why GPs were '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 have asked a lot more of them,' he said. 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 partners in a practice. I am not sure I am in the game of paying them a lot more money at the moment,' Mr O'Brien told the committee.
'Where PBC is working, it is working very well,' he said.
'We know that where PBC is working, 80 per cent of GPs say it goes well and 77 per cent say they are being listened to.'
The health minister added that PBC was 'emphatically' not a 'corpse not for resuscitation', referring to a report in GP last year on comments made by the DoH's national clinical director for primary care Dr David Colin-Thome (GP, 16 October 2009).
'We must continue to breathe life into it and we may find it is up and dancing and providing a better quality of delivery,' Mr O'Brien said.
'I do not want to force people to be involved, I want to encourage them,' he added.
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 PBC'.
Dr Colin-Thome, also giving evidence as part of the select committee's inquiry, denied he had said PBC was dead.
'I said that where it was not working, it needed a kick up the backside,' he said.