The GPC has asked the GMC to investigate ‘appallingly unethical’ incentive schemes which reward GPs for cutting referrals or reducing prescribing costs – including the quality premium central to GP commissioning.
GP leaders said they had written to the regulatorin a bid to clarify where such schemes represent a conflict of interest, and clarified the incentives, increasingly used by both PCTs and shadow CCGs to help achieve daunting efficiency savings targets, risked interfering with GPs’ duty to care for patients.
GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said the concerns also applied to the planned quality premium payments.
‘Being cost-effective doctors and looking at what you’re doing to attempt to reduce inappropriate or unnecessary referrals is reasonable,’ he said. ‘But the act of cutting a fixed number of referrals implies that at some point you are going to apply an arbitrary cut in patient care.’
‘But the fact is that it is still going on so we have started to communicate with the GMC to find out what they think of this and we are interested in hearing what they say.
‘Taking money from patient care and pocketing it for reducing something you do for patients by a fixed percentage or number is wrong,’ he said.