The government spent £1.7bn more than planned on general practice between 2003-04 and 2005-06, the latest figures reveal.

The overspend was revealed last week in a report from the Information Centre for health and social care, which said the English government spent£20.5bn on primary medical care.

The report said the English government spent 9.2 per cent more than it promised under the gross investment guarantee, which set the amount primary care trusts should spend on general practice after the general medical services contract was introduced in 2003.

In Wales, the government spent£1.1bn on general practice -£41m or 3.7 per cent more than promised; in Northern Ireland, the government spent£0.5bn,£68m or 14.2 per cent more than promised; and in Scotland, the government invested£1.8bn over the three-year period but there is no comparable financial guarantee against which actual spend can be measured.

NHS Employers GMS negotiator Philip Grant said the data would be used by the negotiating parties in discussions about the future development of the GMS contract.