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BMA leader attacks plans for GP bonuses

By Ian Quinn

The leader of the BMA has launched a major attack on the Government’s plans to allow GP consortia to award practices bonuses for hitting financial and QOF outcome targets.

BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum told the House of Commons the idea of GP payments being linked to the financial performance of the new network of consortia was a ‘complete anathema’ and warned it could encourage GPs to make referrals for financial rather than clinical reasons.

The health bill, which entered its committee stage this week, sets out plans for the NHS Commissioning board to reward a consortia with extra payments for hitting financial or health outcome targets, which consortia would then be allowed to distribute ‘in such proportions as it considers appropriate’.

But Dr Meldrum told MPs: ‘We do not think there should be any financial benefit for GPs that is dependent on the successes or otherwise of their consortium. The idea of giving GPs bonuses if their consortium does well is a complete anathema.’

Dr Meldrum was asked by MPs if he thought the Government’s health bill could damage the relationship between patients and GPs because patients may fear referrals could be viewed as financially motivated.

He said: ‘I think it’s a very genuine and legitimate fear. Patients will say “You are not referring me, you are not investigating me because you want to make money”.’

Dr Hamish Meldrum: damning verdict on plans for GP bonuses Dr Hamish Meldrum: damning verdict on plans for GP bonuses