Views And Reviews

Fundholding will remain voluntary

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.309.6962.1163 (Published 29 October 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:1163
  1. L Beecham

    The minister for health has assured the chairman of the General Medical Services Committee that fundholding would definitely remain voluntary. At a meeting last week Mr Gerald Malone told Dr Ian Bogle that ministers had not set targets and they did not intend to do so. Mr Malone promised to pass on to officials the GMSC's wish that it would be part of any negotiations about purchasing arrangements for all general practitioners and about the new arrangements for fundholding which the health secretary announced at the conservative party conference (22 October, p 1039). Dr Bogle will ask for assurances in writing that health authorities will give equal support to commissioning non-fundholding general practitioners as it does to fundholders.

    Several GMSC members said that there was a difference between what the minister said and what was happening. Although there had not been pressure to become a fundholder in north Tyneside, Dr George Rae reported that his family health services authority had been told to make only the fundholding scheme attractive. At a meeting in Leeds Dr Sadiq Ali and his colleagues were told that they would all eventually become fundholders.

    At a press briefing after the meeting one of the GMSC's negotiators, Dr Brian Goss, said that each practice needs to choose freely the appropriate form of commissioning. “An unwilling fundholder,” he said, “is no use to anyone.”

    As well as seeking assurances in writing the committee will ask for examples of where there has been undue pressure of coercion to become a fundholder.

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