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Patient care is still DH’s priority

Dr Clare Gerada’s comments in her recent interview contained a number of inaccuracies.

Improving care for patients is our number-one priority. Our proposed changes to the GP contract will make sure standards of care – and the health of our communities, in particular those patients with dementia and long-term conditions – continue to improve.

Patient care will not be ‘undermined’ if the changes are implemented, and removing the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG) will not cause financial difficulties or lead practices to close. Income is generated by retaining patients – if a practice loses a patient to another practice, it will lose income regardless of whether the MPIG remains in place.

The challenge is for practices to provide the best services for patients so that they stay – two practices next door to each other with the same type and number of patients but getting huge variations in their funding is not the answer.

We are committed to introducing a fairer system of funding for GP practices. Removing the MPIG will drive out inequality. This will occur over a number of years so that practices can plan and adjust to changes in income. The money freed up will not be lost from primary care – it will be redistributed between practices and shared more equally based on need.

The QOF does not dictate what GPs do – it is, and will remain, a voluntary scheme that rewards practices for the best care. However, we want to remove the bureaucratic indicators such as whether practices have basic organisational processes in place or keep records properly.

From Earl Howe, Health minister