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Gold, incentives and meh

Ministers back 'cash for commissioning'

The Government believes GPs should be given 'incentives' to take over commissioning of certain services from primary care organisations.

Health minister John Hutton said last week he was 'relaxed' about PCOs incentivising GPs to get involved in

its practice-led commissioning scheme.

Mr Hutton's attitude will fuel belief among GPs that the scheme, in which practices are given a budget by PCOs to commission secondary care services, marks a return to fundholding.

The Government has previously said the initiative differs from fundholding because PCOs, not practices, will hold the commissioning budget and keep any savings GPs make.

Mr Hutton's comments came as former GP fundholders said they were eager to get involved in practice-led commissioning.

But the GPs were divided over whether practices should be able to keep any savings.

Dr Malcolm Willis, a GP in Long Stratton, Norfolk, said the Government had to 'dangle a carrot' in front of GPs to get them to sign up. He said: 'The bigger the carrot, the more interest you will get.'

Dr Viney Jhanjee, a GP in Sandwell, West Midlands, said much of the criticism levelled at fundholding was unjustified and he was interested in the new commissioning scheme.

He said: 'It is not true to say that GPs were taking the money for themselves. They weren't allowed to. It is

quite right that they should be able to use any money to fund staff, premises or innovation.'

Dr Tony Calland, a former chair of the BMA's fundholding sub-committee, said he would take part in practice-led commissioning, but warned practices should not be allowed to keep the savings that resulted.

He said: 'That is a dangerous path as all it does is bring back all the negative publicity that GPs were siphoning money out of the system.'

By Joe Lepper

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