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Patients driven to hospital

Patients have been forced to use hospitals rather than be treated in primary care because of delays introducting practice-based commissioning, the Department of Health admits.

Gary Belfield, head of primary care, said practice-based commissioning should have been rolled out at the same time as the Payment by Results tariff for hospital services.

Without the incentive to treat people closer to home, Payment by Results ­ which sets a national tariff for hospital procedures ­ had in some cases 'driven' patients into hospitals, Mr Belfield said.

He told a London conference: 'With hindsight we should have brought in practice-based commissioning at the same time as Payment by Results but over the next 12 months as we push it forward we will start to even it up.'

Mr Belfield's comments came after the Government was forced to suspend this year's Payment by Results tariff because of inaccuracies.

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