News Extra [these Stories Appear Only On The Web]

Health secretary calls on GPs to accept new contract

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 15 March 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:570
  1. Irina Haivas
  1. BMJ

    Health Secretary Alan Milburn has called on GPs to endorse the proposed new GPs contract, issued last month (1 March, 465).

    Speaking at the National Association of Primary Care Conference held on 5 March, Mr Milburn emphasised the benefits of the new contract. “It will help GPs better manage workload, in particular the burden of out of hours care,” he said. “It will support the desire many practices have to deliver a greater range of new and innovative services.”

    He said the contract would lead to better facilities, more locally based services, greater emphasis on prevention, and better use of pharmaceutical skills.

    Mr Milburn said the new contract would bring a 33% increase in investment in primary care, which will be allocated on the basis of the needs of patients and the practice populations.

    He outlined the emerging role of primary care trusts, stating that the resources will be allocated for three years, not only one.

    “From April, primary care trusts will be in charge of three quarters of the NHS budget,” he said. The trusts will have the freedom to decide which and when local developments take place and to choose the most appropriate providers to purchase care.

    “We are planning to build up primary care trusts' capacity to commission through the national primary care trusts development programme, then through the new NHS University.”

    The common tariff system for hospital operations, which starts next month and sets fixed prices for operations, will avoid the need for negotiations between trusts and hospitals, he said. Mr Milburn also mentioned the government's plans to apply the concept of earned autonomy to primary care trusts, where better performance would mean more freedom.

    Mr Milburn outlined a planned accreditation system for GPs specialising in certain areas. “This month we will publish 10 further guidelines for accrediting GPs with a special interest in areas such dermatology, diabetes, orthopaedics, and neurology.” The system will enable primary care staff to take on the responsibility for diagnosing and managing conditions currently requiring hospital referral. Mr Milburn further suggested that the trusts should consider employing consultants, to help patients have local access to more services.

    “The hospital won't be able to do its work and we won't be able to get hospital waiting time down unless the balance shifts toward primary and community services,” he added.

    View Abstract

    Log in

    Log in through your institution


    * For online subscription