Conservative MP Stephen O'Brien, Shadow Minister for Health, has pledged to give GPs "real commissioning budgets" so that they can spend resources where they see fit.
Speaking at a healthcare conference in Crewe, Mr O'Brien (pictured) said: "By pushing commissioning closer to patients, we will make GPs more responsible for the general health of their population, and for commissioning better patient pathways.
"We are going to give GPs real commissioning budgets, not the indicative budgets they currently hold. They will become the commissioners for their populations."
In response to Mr O'Brien's announcements, Scott McKenzie, consultant to the NHS on practice-based commissioning, said he would welcome the "return" to budget holding.
"This is what should have happened from day one and then we wouldn't have had five years of going round in circles," said Mr McKenzie.
Jeff Finney, Chairman of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales' Healthcare Group, commented: "Accountants working for primary healthcare providers have had to face an ever-changing situation over the last five years, and this is a clear and positive step in the right direction."
Mr O'Brien also highlighted the Conservatives' opposition to polyclinics.
"Clearly with pushing commissioning closer to patients, we also want GPs close to their patients, and that is why we will work to support provision in rural areas, and continue to oppose the arbitrary imposition of polyclinics across the country," he said.
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"Let's be honest – PBC has always been 'fundholding' with government micromanagement bolted on and that made it unrealistic and unworkable. Primary care holding the real budgets will work provided we can drag some of the management finance from the PCTs to allow us to employ the staff to run it. Secondary care has become adept at billing to the maximum under the tariff, largely unchallenged by many PCTs who seem unable to control the situation. There was a working system under fundholding, which used practice staff who knew what should have been paid for. Just think of the money that must have been wasted in changing something just for political myopia" – Alan Moore, Cheshire