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Doctors “could be given control of NHS spending”

9 July 2010

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PCTs could be scrapped, with doctors given the power to decide where money is spent in the NHS, in a radical shake-up of healthcare services, reports say.

Government plans to give GPs more control of how funds are spent on meeting patients’ needs across the whole health spectrum are expected to be unveiled in a white paper next week.

Up to £80bn could reportedly be distributed to family doctors and strategic health authorities – in line with the coalition government’s view that GPs are best placed to understand patients’ needs.

GPs could also have to organise out-of-hours services, in a move which could see them resume responsibility for 24-hour care.

However, some MPs have expressed concerns about family doctors having the correct skills or even the desire to take on the role. Others have raised questions about accountability.

There are currently some 150 PCTs and strategic health authorities, which oversee NHS trusts and supervise local NHS services.

At present, the government allocates funds to local trusts, which then pay for patients in their area to be treated in hospital.

Under the new proposals, doctors would receive the money instead and pay hospitals directly for referrals.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “The health secretary has set out the values and vision for an NHS centred on patients; we will ensure that patients share in decisions about their care – ‘no decision about me, without me’.

“He has already emphasised the need to liberate the NHS to focus on outcomes and improving results for patients, as reflected in the revised Operating Framework which was published on the 21 June 2010.

“The details of how this vision will take effect will be set out soon.”

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