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GP scheme "fails to deliver"

Patients have failed to see any real benefits from government health reform, despite GPs being paid almost £100 million in incentives to deliver the scheme, experts claim.

The implementation of practice-based commissioning has been "painfully slow" and, in some areas, has stalled completely, they said.

A report from the King's Fund think tank found that the programme, introduced in 2005, had also delivered little in terms of financial savings for the NHS.

The policy was introduced as a way of allowing GPs to run local budgets and "buy-in" services such as hospital and community care.

It was seen as a necessary step to providing more patient care in the community, thereby cutting costs and the number of referrals to hospitals.

The government intended GPs to provide a range of services using practice-based commissioning, including diabetic care, diagnostic testing (such as X-rays) and dermatology.

But the report, which is the culmination of two years' work, found that very few GPs were using the scheme to commission new services, despite the fact they have been paid almost £100 million in incentive payments.

Report co-author Nick Goodwin, a senior fellow at the King's Fund, said: "The NHS must harness what remains of the limited enthusiasm of GPs and commit to a fundamental redesign of the policy if it's to live up to its potential."

Copyright © Press Association 2008

King's Fund

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