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DH to push ahead with quality premium in April 2013

The Government is to push ahead with a version of its controversial plans to pay a quality premium to GPs for commissioning from April 2013, even though many consortia will not be ready to take over budgets at that point.

The move raises the prospect that GPs who do not take over commissioning from April 2013 could lose out financially as a result.

The Department of Health made a partial climbdown over the quality premium last week, saying the health bill would make clear incentives would only be offered for improvements in patient care and reductions in inequalities. But it insisted a premium would only be paid if clinical commissioning groups kept within budget.

The DH said the ‘size and nature' of quality premiums was under discussion, as were its original plans for commissioners to divide up premiums among member practices.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘We need a dialogue with the Government to eradicate any notion GPs are going to gain financially from reducing services or making savings. We have always opposed the idea GPs' take-home pay should be connected to commissioning activity.'

Bob Senior, chair of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants, warned: ‘The funding is not new money – they are going to raid primary care funds. I'd speculate an amount significant enough to make you squeal. If it's £10k or £20k, you'd be paying attention.'

He warned nurses and consultants on boards would not have the same financial incentive as GPs to reduce budgets.

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