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Health Act 1999

Section 10: Remuneration for Part II services

127.Determinations of remuneration of family health services practitioners (GPs, dentists, pharmacists and optometrists) are provided for in sections 43A and 43B of the 1977 Act, which were inserted by section 7 of the Health and Social Security Act 1984. They provide for a regulatory structure for the making of determinations of professional remuneration. However, those sections have never been brought into force. Meanwhile, determinations of professional remuneration are validated by section 7(4) of the 1984 Act. The practice prior to 1984 was to make provision about remuneration through published statements (for example, the Statement of Fees and Allowances or “Red Book” for GPs) not contained in regulations. This practice has continued to the present day.

128.The continued reliance on section 7(4) of the 1984 Act as validating determinations is increasingly unsatisfactory. In particular, without sections 43A and 43B in force there is no power to make regulations under those sections and, thus, no explicit method of appointing a determining authority other than the Secretary of State.

129.The Government intends to give Primary Care Trusts the function of determining such GP remuneration as comes from cash-limited funds. It is intended that the Secretary of State will appoint Health Authorities as determining authorities in respect of such remuneration, and direct them to delegate this function to Primary Care Trusts through regulations made under section 17A of the 1977 Act (as inserted by section 12 of the Act).

130.Section 10 substitutes a new version of sections 43A and 43B in the 1977 Act. The purpose of these revised sections is to make new provision about determinations of remuneration. The new sections rely less on regulations and more on free-standing propositions than the sections they replace and, in particular, provide a new method of appointing Health Authorities as determining authorities which will, indirectly, enable Primary Care Trusts to determine remuneration in respect of certain payments to GPs. The provisions in new sections 43A and 43B derive largely from the existing sections 43A and 43B.

131.New section 43A provides for the Secretary of State to determine the remuneration (which includes payments of salary, fees, allowances or the reimbursement of expenses) of family health services practitioners or to appoint Health Authorities or other persons as determining authorities, subject to requirements contained in their instrument of appointment. It provides for regulations to make provision about determining remuneration (including consultation and publication requirements), and subsection (5) provides in particular for regulations to permit determinations to be made by reference to the remuneration of other persons, or scales, indices or other data. Subsection (6) provides that a determination may have retrospective effect provided that taken as a whole it is not detrimental to the persons to whom it relates.

132.New section 43B provides in subsection (1) for the Secretary of State to undertake consultation before making a national determination. The Secretary of State will therefore continue to consult the national representative bodies of each group before making changes to payments that potentially affect the whole of that group (these changes would be ones to the GPs’ Statement of Fees and Allowances or equivalent for the other professions). Subsection (3) provides that determinations may be made in several stages, as is currently the case. For GPs, for example, the Secretary of State might make a first stage determination in respect of the profession as a whole and publish it in the Statement of Fees and Allowances, and subsequently Health Authorities might (within parameters set by the Secretary of State) make a second stage determination of claims for allowances or fees from smaller groups or individuals within that profession.

133.As mentioned above, currently determinations of remuneration are validated by section 7(4) of the Health and Social Security Act 1984. The changes to sections 43A and 43B are intended to reflect current practice in relation to such determinations. When the new sections are in force it will therefore no longer be necessary to rely on section 7(4) of the 1984 Act.

134.It is intended that when exercising the delegated function of determining cash-limited payments Primary Care Trusts will be subject to any requirements (such as consultation requirements) that apply to the Health Authority.

135.Primary Care Trusts will not be appointed as determining authorities in relation to remuneration for dentists, pharmacists or optometrists. The Act precludes them having any functions in respect of Part II services other than general medical services (see new section 17A(3)(d) of the 1977 Act, as inserted by section 12 of the Act).

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