Tories back GPs and patients to control NHS funding

A National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) 'manifesto' calling for GPs and patients to control NHS funding could become a blueprint for primary care reform in the next parliament, after it was endorsed by the Conservative Party.

Dr Peter Smith: Local people and practices can work far more closely together so that practices can be more responsive to local needs.
Dr Peter Smith: Local people and practices can work far more closely together so that practices can be more responsive to local needs.

The manifesto says practice-based commissioning (PBC) has failed in many areas and calls for practices and patients to control local health funding.

It calls for 'full accountability for the use of NHS resources transferring from PCTs to GPs, giving practices significant independence from PCTs'.

Local people should be more involved with practices on commissioning decisions, ‘through use of a health dividend, the efficiency gain to be achieved through better use of NHS resources', it adds.

The NAPC has met all three main political parties and aims to speak with MPs in the coming weeks to refine the plans.

Conservative shadow health minister Mark Simmonds said he had met the NAPC earlier this month. He said he was not involved in developing the manifesto, but backed its focus on local accountability.

‘I welcome many of the NAPC's proposals, as they are in line with Conservative Party thinking on primary care.  We welcome their call for GPs to have accountability for resources, as we have proposed a system of GP commissioning, in which GPs hold real, not notional budgets.'

NAPC chairman Dr Johnny Marshall conceded that many of the manifesto's aims are broadly in line with Tory plans.

‘But we are hoping to get support from politicians from all sides,' he said. ‘PBC has failed to deliver universal improvements. In some areas it has worked, in others it has not. We need to take it to the next level and I hope there will be support for that in all parties.'

GP contracts would have to be renegotiated to incorporate practices' new powers, he said.

NAPC vice-president Dr Peter Smith said details to be refined in the coming weeks include clarity on how local people will be involved in decisions about healthcare funding. ‘We want to see how local people and practices can work far more closely together so that practices can be more responsive to local needs.'

Click back on Wednesday for news from the NAPC conference in Birmingham

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