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GPs will ‘take on responsibility for NHS rationing’

By Gareth Iacobucci

GPs will be expected to ration the services they commission for patients under the Government’s reform agenda, and to be accountable to patients for their decisions, health secretary Andrew Lansley has said.

He told delegates at the National Association of Primary Care conference in Birmingham that GPs would be best placed to take rationing decisions collectively in consortia and to explain them to individual patients.

Mr Lansley said he could not take away ‘resource constraint’ in the NHS, but that GPs would rather be responsible for rationing decisions than have them taking over their heads: ‘We cannot dispense with the concept of rationing, but who should do that? Currently, the person who is trusted by the patients is the GP in front of them, but the GP is not in a position to make the decision that really matters for their patients.

‘The position we are moving to is not to dispense with the need for prioritisation, but to have prioritisation where patients have a reasonable expectation and discuss it with their clinical adviser. I actually think most of you would rather make the decision collectively rather than an organisation that isn’t accountable to you.’

Mr Lansley said the Government had done ‘everything we can’ in the comprehensive spending review to protect NHS funding, but that it was imperative discussions around rationing took place: ‘Aat the end of the day, there are always going to be judgments made about how money should be best used.’

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