GPs' bill for red tape 'hits pounds 200m'

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Family doctors have run up a pounds 200m bill on red tape under government health reforms, Labour claimed yesterday.

The Labour MP, Alan Milburn, said GP bureaucracy had soaked up enough money for 15,000 kidney transplants, 50,000 hip replacements or 160,000 cataract operations.

National Health Service reforms allow GPs managing their own accounts to apply for financial help for administrative expenses and computer equipment. Figures culled from the Government show fundholders have claimed some pounds 124m since 1990 for administrative costs and pounds 77m for computer aid.

Mr Milburn challenged Stephen Dorrell, the Secretary of State for Health, to clamp down on the cost of GP fundholding schemes. "Taxpayers' cash that should be used for patient care is being squandered paying unnecessary bureaucracy bills," he said.

In a major policy speech last weekend, Mr Dorrell pledged to place as much money as possible in frontline care services.