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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Milburn promises GPs earned autonomy

Health Secretary Alan Milburn has promised to reward high-achieving practices with freedom from their primary care organisations.

In a speech that billed the new contract as a 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity to shift the balance of the NHS in favour of primary care, Mr Milburn told a meeting of the National Association of Primary Care last week: 'I will be looking at how practices should benefit from earned autonomy as relationships with PCTs develop and the new GMS contract beds in.'

Dr Tony Snell, a member of the NHS Confederation core negotiating team, said: 'It's the same concept as foundation hospitals. Once a practice can demonstrate they can continually maintain standards and good audit data, monitoring by the PCO will become the exception rather than the norm.'

But the RCGP said there was a real risk the plan could worsen health inequalities.

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