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Lansley pledges real commissioning budgets 'within a year of election'

GPs could be handed real commissioning budgets within 12 months of a new Government being elected, the Conservatives have revealed.

GPs could be handed real commissioning budgets within 12 months of a new Government being elected, the Conservatives have revealed.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool, shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said discussions on how to place budgets directly under GPs' control would begin immediately if the Conservatives won the next election.

Mr Lansley told delegates that placing more responsibility in the hands of GPs would allow the NHS to make greater efficiency savings in preparation for the turbulent financial times ahead.

His forecast is the clearest indication yet of the Conservatives' rapid timetable for implementing a radical expansion of practice-based commissioning, which many feel has been hampered by a lack of meaningful budgets for GPs.

Although Mr Lansley acknowledged a deal would need to be thrashed out with the BMA and other stakeholders before getting the green light, he insisted GPs were enthusiastic about the plans.

‘My conversations with the BMA and others make it clear that there are issues we have to get over,' he said. 'Subject to that, many GPs are keen in a year from a general election to be able to exercise real budgetary responsibility.'

Mr Lansley also responded positively when asked if handing budgets to GPs could encourage cash savings in the NHS. ‘I think it will,' he said. ‘Somewhere in the system, you have to have people who are responsible both for clinical decisions about management of patient care and the resource consequences of that.

‘Demand management close to patients by those who have responsibility for the management of their care is an essential component of ensuring the relationship between commissioners and providers is effective.'

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley

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