Published: 17/11/2005 Volume 115 No. 5982 Page 9

GP practices should only be blocked from becoming practice-based commissioners if they cannot deliver for their patients, the health secretary's policy adviser has said.

Speaking at the NHS Alliance conference, Matthew Swindells said primary care trusts should let GPs get on with 'representing patients'.

PCTs must not 'start from the basis that if a practice really proves they're worthy of it, then they can start representing their patients, ' said Mr Swindells. He said it was safe to assume that 'all practices are able to do that, we only start taking it away from them if they fail'.

Mr Swindells' comments came before publication of an alliance report warning that 'a substantial proportion' of GPs and practices feel 'uninformed, unconvinced and uninvolved'. The report, by Professor David Hunter, professor of health policy and management at Durham University's centre for public policy, calls for more recognition of the lack of incentives for practicebased commissioning.

HSJ understands that the DoH's 'rules of engagement' on practicebased commissioning are due to be published within the next ten days.