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Government calls for talks after GP leader attacks ‘appallingly unethical’ reforms

By Ian Quinn

The Government has called for clear the air talks with GP leaders amid mounting hostility to the health bill.

It came as GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman clashed with a health minister after attacking what he described as ‘disgracefully unethical’ incentives for GPs contained within the NHS reforms.

Dr Laurence Buckman claimed the planned system of quality premiums, which will be paid to consortia to share as they see fit with GPs if they hit financial or quality targets, could translate into GPs effectively having their pay docked unless they agree to ration services.

‘It appears that what we might actually be asked to do is to save money and if we save a certain amount of money we will receive some of our pay given back to us. That is something that is appallingly unethical,’ Dr Buckman said in an interview with the BBC.

He added: ‘I don’t believe that I should be saying to a patient ‘you can’t have treatment because that way I’ll get paid. I’m not prepared to do that’.

But Liberal Democrat health minister Paul Burstow claimed Dr Buckman’s criticism was a ‘gross distortion’ of the Government’s plans.

‘That really is a caricature, a gross distortion of what we are trying to do here,’ he told the BBC.

‘What GP commissioning consortia will be rewarded for is improving survival rates and the quality of care given to their patients.

‘If the BMA haven’t understood that at this stage then we clearly need to talk to them further.’

Dr Laurence Buckman: plans for incentives are ‘appalingly unethical’