Primary care trusts should 'invest to save' by handing out more cash incentives to GP practices to help with achieving system reform priorities, the government has said.

Primary care trusts should 'invest to save' by handing out more cash incentives to GP practices to help with achieving system reform priorities, the government has said.

Practices should be rewarded for launching 'cash-releasing' innovations that 'facilitate the provision of care in settings more convenient to patients, closer to home', the Department of Health's commissioning framework has recommended.

Incentives triggers could include lowering accident and emergency attendance and improve patients' ability to 'self-care'.

The move is seen as an endorsement of incentive schemes already put in place in some areas to achieve shifts of care into community settings.

The guidance also clarifies that practices should have the freedom to choose to change who they commission services from within existing contractual arrangements without having to go to open tender.

NHS Alliance chief officer Mike Sobanja said the policy of topslicing PCT budgets by strategic health authorities to bail out organisations in deficit should now stop to allow PCTs to invest in innovation.

Mr Sobanja welcomed the 'reduction in bureaucracy' now practices 'don't have to get a business plan signed off by the PCT every time they want to change something,' and encouraged PCTs to use the suggested incentive structure.