The government is to spend £19m closing down the GP fundholding scheme - but will have to set up another.

The Department of Health indicated earlier this year that it does not expect to have the Health Bill, which formally abolishes fundholding, on the statute book in time for primary care groups to go live on 1 April.

And until the relevant sections of the 1990 NHS and Community Care Act are repealed, NHS Executive guidance has admitted: 'It is necessary that a fundholding scheme should be available to GPs.'

The guidance says ministers will set up a 'residual scheme' for GPs who wish to carry on fundholding after PCGs go live.

But it is 'confident that most existing fundholders will now wish to move on fully into PCGs'.

Michael Sobanja, chief officer of the NHS Primary Care Group Alliance, said he was 'disappointed' that the two schemes would have to run in parallel.

'Fundholding is not compatible with PCGs, ' he said, adding that he hoped fundholders would 'use some common sense' and take part in the reforms.

The guidance says£16m will be allocated to health authorities to assist in closing down fundholding and auditing accounts. A further£3m will be allocated for the cost of redundancies among fundholding staff.

HAs will receive the cash in proportion to 1998-99 allocations for the fundholding management allowance.

The guidance instructs HAs to designate a person to lead the closure of fundholding and outlines arrangements for ensuring staff are available to close the accounts and answer auditors' questions. Mr Sobanja said concerns were emerging about auditing fundholder accounts, as staff were already leaving for PCG jobs.

Select committee urges caution on primary care trusts MPs have urged the Department of Health to review the board membership of primary care trusts before giving them the go-ahead.

In a report issued this week, the health select committee says GPs should not be given undue influence on PCTs, which should not be created 'unless their board membership reflects the broader professional and community input that is required for PCT status'. It also backs concerns that ministers may force the pace of reform, and force PCGs into PCT status.

Primary Care Groups Second Report . Health select committee.

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