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Tory plans will break small practices claims O'Brien

By Steve Nowottny

Smaller practices could be ‘broken' by Tory plans to write commissioning responsibility into the GP contract, health minister Mike O'Brien has warned.

In a keynote speech to the National Association of Primary Care's annual conference in Birmingham, Mr O'Brien said it should be up to individual practices to decide if they wished to take responsibility for real budgets, and cautioned against a ‘one-size-fits-all' approach.

‘PBC is right for many surgeries – but it should in our view be a matter of choice,' he said. ‘If GPs want it and their practices can cope with the administration, then great. Some GPs don't want it, particularly smaller practices. They may want to focus on patient care and not budgets or administration.

‘They may benefit from coming together with other practices and doing things collectively, but smaller practices could be broken if they are forced to start managing budgets. Let GPs and practices have the choice, rather than forcing a GP budget on them as some would do.'

Mr O'Brien's comments come just weeks after the Conservative party claimed it was in advanced talks with the GPC over how GPs taking on responsibility for real budgets could be written into the GP contract.

Mr O'Brien also insisted that GPs had a crucial leadership role to play in improving quality within the NHS and achieving efficiency savings in a cold financial climate.

‘We will not do this by Whitehall diktat but through local clinical leadership,' he said.

‘You are the ones closest to patients. You are the ones who know where waste and duplication lives. Government cannot achieve quality by central mandate – it's now your turn.'

Mike O'Brien: Tory plans will break small practices MIke O'Brien: Tory plans will break small practices

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