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'No more slabs of money'

GPs will get no extra cash to prepare their practices to take on work from hospitals, the Prime Minister and Health Secretary have said.

At a briefing last week, Patricia Hewitt said the days of handing out 'another slab of money' for every new initiative were over.

She said: 'The White Paper is very much about how we use the existing and growing pot of money.'

Ministers expect 5 per cent of hospital work to shift into primary care over the next decade.

In response to a question from Pulse, Mr Blair stressed yet again that British GPs were the highest paid in Europe.

He added that private firms would be able to offer GP services in every part of the country. 'We're content to have this in the most disadvantaged areas but obviously it's important we learn lessons that come out of that for the future.'

Patients could 'trigger' services being put out to tender if they demonstrated their dissatisfaction, Mrs Hewitt added.

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