Primary care groups have won a 9.1m cash boost to recruit board members and staff before they start running in April next year.

Health minister Alan Milburn said the extra funding, on top of the existing 22m start-up money, would give GPs, nurses and other members 'the right incentives to get involved in playing a key leadership role in developing the PCGs.'

Ministers expect PCGs to pay chief executives from 35,000 to 50,000 a year, Mr Milburn told the Institute of Health Services Management and Association of Managers in General Practice conference, last week.

Payments up to 15,125 for PCG chairs and 4,000 for board members in level two groups were announced separately by the Department of Health. In level one PCGs, chairs will receive up to 13,225 and board members up to 2,700.

Mr Milburn said: 'The government is allocating enough cash for each PCG to be able to take on high-quality managerial staff.'

But primary care managers clashed with Mr Milburn over his refusal to guarantee them a place on PCG boards. He told delegates that boards had to be small and effective. Professionals, such as managers or midwives, could be 'co-opted as required'.

Mr Milburn said he expected

evidence that PCGs 'are using the skills of those who are out there, and that applies to primary care managers.' But practice manager Val Kay said managers could not be compared to clinical professionals.

'When a decision affects midwives they can be co-opted. But every decision the board makes will affect us. We need a permanent place on the board.'

Other managers warned the extra funds for PCG salaries were 'too little, too late' to fund 480 groups across England.

Worcestershire health authority commissioning manager Ian Carmichael said: 'It is welcome, but it is not going to be enough at about 20,000 for each PCG. We have only four months to recruit staff and set up admin systems.'

Mr Milburn admitted there was 'anxiety about job losses' among managers when individual fundholding practices were abolished.

But Manchester general practice manager Kathleen Mulrooney said: 'He was more or less telling normal practice managers it is out of your league' to lead PCGs.

See News Focus, pages 10-11