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Tory promise to scrap top-down targets is scaled back



By Gareth Iacobucci

A pledge in the Conservatives’ election manifesto to scrap ‘politically driven targets within the NHS’ is thought to have been scaled back by the new coalition Government.

A pledge in the Conservatives’ election manifesto to scrap ‘politically driven targets within the NHS’ is thought to have been scaled back by the new coalition Government.

A commitment to free GPs from centrally imposed, top-down NHS targets had been a central plank of the Tory manifesto – with health secretary Andrew Lansley vowing to ‘abolish the targets that bind professionals in red tape’. But it was conspicuously absent from the coalition’s policy document, published last week.

The Government may still remove some secondary care targets, including the four-hour waiting-time target in A&E and possibly even the 18-week referral-to-treatment target, when it publishes the 2010/11 NHS operating framework, expected in the new few weeks.

Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC deputy chair and a GP in Leeds, called for ‘common sense on the implementation of current targets that have led to significant unintended consequences’.

But even pro-Tory GPs told Pulse they would be wary of scrapping all targets. Dr Paul Charlson, chair of the Conservative Medical Society, said: ‘You can’t take targets away completely. You have to have some performance management in the NHS.’

But he added: ‘But there will be less, and it will be more about trying to intervene in chronic illnesses.’

Dr Richard Vautrey