Primary care trusts will be required to pay out up to£1bn if all GP surgeries attain maximum points under the quality and outcomes framework this year.
Last week the Department of Health announced that the 8,400 GP surgeries in England achieved an average 96 per cent of the points available in 2005-06. The figure equates to just under£126,000 for a practice with a list of 6,000 patients.
A DoH spokesman said the budget for full achievement nationally would amount to£1bn, but pointed out that quality measures got harder each year. And he said that since the introduction of QOF two years ago, the overall budget for PCTs had risen by£4.5bn.
Dr David Jenner, who speaks for the NHS Alliance on quality issues, said he hoped PCTs had put aside enough money to allow for 100 per cent success. 'It would be foolish to agree a contract if it would exceed the budget available.
'It shows that GPs will respond very well to real incentives that are tangibly improving the quality of care and supported by evidence that is powerful and collectable.'