NHS Direct and the National Programme for IT in the NHS are both appropriate targets for cuts in the current economic climate, according to GPs.
A survey of almost 900 GPs by the GP newspaper Pulse found that 59% thought the health helpline NHS Direct should take a funding cut while 52% thought the national programme should have its budget reduced.
NPfIT and NHS Direct were the third and fourth most popular targets for cuts, with only Darzi-centre contracts and managerial headcount and salaries more popular choices. These were voted for by 82% of those who took part.
The pre-election survey also found that 78% of GPs believed that use of patient surveys for setting GP pay should be scrapped, while 73% called for the survey to be redesigned to focus more heavily on continuity of care. Only one in three GPs (29%) wanted to see funding for practice-based commissioning cut.
More than half of those surveyed (51%) backed the government’s policy of moving care closer to home to replace hospital services. But while 81% supported generic prescribing targets, only 46% backed drug switching targets, which are often backed by IT systems.
Pulse has launched its own ‘manifesto for general practice’ as a result of its poll. It is calling for patient survey pay targets to be scrapped and for cuts to Darzi contracts, managers and consultants. But it has not included any demands on NHS Direct or NPfIT.
At the end of last year, the government announced that £500-£600m of cuts would be made to NPfIT, but no details have yet been released about where the cuts will be made.