Education And Debate

How will primary care groups work?

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 17 January 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:214
  1. Tom Butlera, senior fellow,
  2. Martin Roland (, professor of general practicea
  1. aNational Primary Care Research and Development Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 6PL


    Delivery of the 10 year strategy for health set out in the white paper will depend to an important degree on the effectiveness of the new primary care groups in delivering local health improvement programmes, in partnership with health authorities. From April 1999, 500 new primary care groups, typically serving populations of 100 000, will replace nearly 4000 existing commissioning organisations, including general practice fundholders. They will be resourced out of current fundholding allowances.

    Primary care groups will involve all local general practitioners, along with community nurses. The white paper outlines four progressive forms of primary care group: giving advice to health authorities on commissioning; managing devolved budgets; independent primary care trusts responsible for some devolved commissioning; and primary care trusts responsible for commissioning all primary and secondary care services with a fully integrated budget. It is not yet clear how primary care groups will relate to optometrists, pharmacists, or dentists. For …

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