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Government to divert cash to GP commissioning groups in deprived areas

By Gareth Iacobucci

The Government has revealed it will radically reshape GP funding by redirecting cash to GP commissioning groups in the most deprived areas.

Parliamentary under secretary of state for health Frederick Howe told the House of Lords the plans would be achieved by reforming QOF and ensuring ‘a fair allocation of resources’ to new GP commissioning groups.

In a Lords debate on primary care, Earl Howe also revealed that the Government will scrap Labour’s controversial preferred provider policy, and would encourage GPs to emulate the social enterprise model employed at former BMA deputy chair Dr Sam Everington’s award-winning Bromley-by-Bow health centre in East London.

The disclosure follows the pledge made by the coalition to renegotiate the GP contract and create incentives to improve primary care access in deprived areas.

Earl Howe said: ‘The Quality and Outcomes Framework initially helped to raise standards, especially in more deprived areas. However, it did so at significant cost and the improvements have now stalled. We will reform the QOF to reward GPs for improving health outcomes.

‘We are committed to ensuring a fair allocation of resources to the new GP commissioning consortium when it is formed. We also want allocations to be made based on the health needs of the registered population for these groups, so that those with the greatest need have their fair share of resources.’

He added that the Government would scrap Labour’s preferred provider policy and ‘encourage ‘any willing provider’ to compete to provide the best outcomes for patients.’

He also said the Government would encourage more GPs to follow the social enterprise model, citing the example of the Bromley-by-bow health centre in East London, where Andrew Lansley made his first speech as health secretary earlier this month.

He said: ‘Based in one of the most deprived parts of the country, it has been an inspiration to many in Bow and it is an inspiration to this Government. The Bromley-by -Bow Centre and other social enterprises are transforming communities in a way that the state cannot.’

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