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PBC must succeed, says minister

The new financial context means PBC must succeed health minister Mike O'Brien told the NAPC annual conference today.

He spelt out that the next decade would focus on quality where the previous one had addressed quantity and said PBC would play a key part in achieving improved quality of care which would automatically release funds.

‘Staying true to this (quality) vision will become increasingly important as budgets start to level out.'

He added: ‘The government can't drive quality by central mandate and we now turn to you (primary care) to do what you do best – to move the NHS from good to great.

‘One of the principal ways of doing this is PBC.

‘And why is now different? Why, when PBC has not taken off everywhere and where it has taken off has not always reached its potential – why will now be different? Because it has to be. It's the only way to deliver high quality care for all.'

He went on to say there was nothing to stop PCTs devolving real budgets to PBC groups but stressed practices should have a choice on taking on such a responsibility.

Ernst and Young director, Richard Lewis, said he felt accountability was still missing from PBC, as was the case under fundholding.

He told the conference: ‘If we are really serious about devolving power to practices there really has to be accountability.'

He added PCTs were also ‘scared to hand over the power'.

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