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NHS reform is ‘disgracefully unethical’

1 March 2011

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A doctors’ leader has warned that government proposals to offer financial rewards to GPs for good performance could be seen as ‘disgracefully unethical’.

Chairman of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) general practitioners committee Laurence Buckman explained he would not give his approval to any plan where doctors saved money for the health service – as well as possibly denying patients treatment – in order to be paid more.

Part of the Government’s NHS reforms could be linking a general practice’s to outcomes achieved by groups of GPs.

Exactly how much money they would receive is under discussion by the Government, BMA negotiators and others in the medical profession.

The Government wants each consortium of GPS to receive a ‘quality premium’ before deciding how to award it to its practices.

But Dr Buckman told BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 programme the quality premium could be considered ‘disgracefully unethical’.

He said it was unclear exactly where the money would come from, and if it is a reward for saving the NHS money.

“We don’t understand what the quality premium means,” he told the programme. “We don’t understand where it will come from; we rather fear it will come out of our pay and be paid back to us if we do certain things.

“It appears what we might actually be asked to do is to save money and if we save a certain amount of money we will receive some of our pay given back to us.

“That is something that is appallingly unethical.”

Asked to expand on what he meant by unethical, Dr Buckman said: “Because I don’t believe that I should be saying to a patient ‘you can’t have treatment because that way I’ll get paid’.”

Copyright © Press Association 2011