A UNION official has warned of the ‘dangers’ of handing over massive NHS budgets to GPs.
Under plans unveiled by Tory health minister Andrew Lansley MP yesterday, around £80bn of the NHS’s £105bn budget could be handed over to groups of local doctors who the government says have a better understanding of patient needs.
The move away from Primary Care Trusts or PCTs is dependent on finding GPs who are willing to take on the challenge of commissioning more services for their patients.
The Tories say the move will put an end to the target-driven bureaucracy which dominated the NHS under Labour.
Huddersfield Unison branch secretary Paul Cooney says the detail of the White Paper on health is being eagerly awaited.
He said: “I think the devil will be in the detail.
“I would be very surprised if the local GPs could get together to take on the commissioning role of the PCT.
“I have absolutely nothing against GPs but they run private businesses.
“Andrew Lansley’s plan is to give them £80bn but the danger is they will just tender that out to private concerns.
“I’m a firm believer that the NHS must be provided for publicly and be publicly accountable as an organisation.
“We need to stop this internal market within the NHS because it wastes so much money.”
Previous efforts have been made to get GPs to work together in formal partnerships to deliver services offered in hospitals and by community mental health trusts.
In the 1990s efforts by the Conservative Party to introduce GP fundholding saw only half of them take up the offer.
The British Medical Association however has expressed interest saying members are willing to get involved.
The health secretary claims £1bn could be cut from NHS bureaucracy and diverted to frontline services, and that 20,000 deaths from cancer and strokes could be avoided each year by making the NHS more accountable against “outcomes” such as survival rates rather than some of the current targets. A spokeswoman for Kirklees NHS said it was too early to comment on the plans.