The NHS (Primary Care Act)

The NHS Primary Care bill was taken to parliament in February 1997 and received royal assent in May 1997, just before the general election and a change of government.

The NHS (Primary Care Act) 1997 facilitated the piloting of different types of primary care contracting arrangements and established mechanisms for the direct employment of GPs (rather than through the traditional independent contractor model).

It was hoped that the prospect of being employed as a salaried GP might attract doctors to areas with poorer service provision, thereby strengthening primary care provision in that area.

The introduction of salaried GPs was also intended to offer the flexibility to consider practice-based contracts, allowing for contracts with a primary care team (incorporating a broader group of professionals), rather than with the GP as an individual. Funding streams could also be pooled across primary, acute and community care, providing greater flexibility.


House of Commons.
National Health Service (Primary Care) Act 1997.; 1997.

Leathard A.
Health Care Provision: Past, present and into the 21st century.
2nd edn.
Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes; 2001.