Whitehall calls halt to NHS fundholder `fast-track'

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The Government today will announce the end of "fast-track" service for patients of GP fundholders with the abolition of the internal market in the National Health Service.

The move by Health ministers will make it clear to health authorities and hospital trusts that they should plan to give family doctors equal access to operations for their patients. Some doctors who ran their own budgets were given priority by hospitals, but the competition between GPs is set to end.

Frank Dobson, Secretary of State for Health, will signal plans to replace fundholding with more co-operation between GPs, fulfilling a Labour election manifesto commitment.