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Government to extend tariffs to GPs by 2013

By Gareth Iacobucci

The Government is to extend Payment by Results tariffs into the community by 2013 as part of its plan to create a more competitive marketplace in the NHS, the health secretary has revealed.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse, Andrew Lansley said the Government planned to make GPs work to a set price on services within two years in order to ensure they cannot make excessive profits from services they have commissioned.

He said the move would be crucial in tackling potential conflicts of interest for GP commissioning consortia.

Pulse recently revealed that up to one in four GPs has an investment in a local private provider, raising fears that the Government's commissioning plans will be derailed by the potential for conflict of interest.

But Mr Lansley said his plans to expand the NHS market would strengthen the probity of GPs' commissioning decisions.

He said: ‘We're intending to have extended tariff arrangements out into the community by the time legal responsibility transfers in 2013.'

‘So general practice won't be able to take an excess profit because they will be transparently contracting within a tariff framework, where they would have to demonstrate they have met quality standards and the price available from other providers.'

‘When GPs do that referral, part of the contractual obligation will be to provide patients with choice. So they have to offer the choice and demonstrate they've offered choice,' he added.

Dr Michael Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance and a GP in Cullompton, Devon, urged the Government to ensure tariffs are set as a maximum price, and not introduced without proper assessment.

He said: ‘It is fine in some areas, especially if we test it out to see if it really does deliver improved outcomes and cost-effectiveness. But if you're going to introduce community tariffs, make the tariff a maximum, and don't introduce them too fast.'

Tariffs are to be extended to GPs by 2013, health secretary Andrew Lansley told Pulse Tariffs are to be extended to GPs by 2013, health secretary Andrew Lansley told Pulse Making your consortia a success

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