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Minister warns over GP income formula

Health Minister John Hutton has highlighted ensuring the smooth introduction of new funding streams for GP income as the toughest job left for GP contract negotiators.

In a detailed letter to the GPC last week, Mr Hutton stressed that practice income must not be destabilised by the introduction of the new global sum formula and quality framework.

'All parties need to consider carefully how best to manage the transition from the old system to the new within the overall level of investment that the Government will make,' he wrote.

GPC joint-deputy chair Dr Simon Fradd said the minister's comment did not reflect difficulties in the talks and his letter had been received 'very positively' by the negotiators.

'Mr Hutton recognises that he has to protect people in such a radical change because the York Formula [for the global sum] will not deliver in the way the current mechanism does,' he said. 'We haven't modelled that yet, but it's vital we get it right.'

Dr Fradd stressed the GPC and the NHS Confederation had not come to blows during the continuing talks on pricing. 'They haven't said we can't afford it and we haven't said ''You are not giving us enough to do the job'',' he added.

Mr Hutton said law changes would be needed to implement the new practice-based contract. This will be brought in next year, but will delay some aspects until 2004.

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