HC Deb 18 January 1999 vol 323 cc381-2W
Mr. Rendel

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what estimate he has made of the number of general practitioner appointments with patients which will be lost each year as a result of general practitioner participation in the administration of primary care groups; [65920]

(2) what resources he is making available to general practitioner surgeries to allow them to replace general practitioner time taken up in administration of primary care groups; [65921]

(3) what resources he has made available for repaying the expenses of provisionally appointed members of primary care groups up to 1 April 1999. [65922]

Mr. Denham

We have allocated £135 million to health authorities as a central contribution towards health authorities funding of the running costs of primary care groups in 1999–2000. Some of this will be used by Primary Care Groups to fund locum or other costs incurred by general practitioner primary care group board members. In addition we have made available £31 million this financial year to health authorities to help support the development of primary care groups.

We have agreed that locum/compensatory payments can be paid to practices to enable them to cover such absences. In some cases cover will be provided from within the practice. We therefore do not expect any deterioration in the quality or level of service to patients to result from GP membership of primary care groups. Indeed we are confident that Primary Care Groups will lead to improvements in services to patients. One of their key functions is to develop primary care.