A GP has slammed reports that a money saving scheme will leave frail and elderly patients without the healthcare they need.

On the contrary chairman of the Oxfordshire Local Medical Committee (LMC) Dr Prit Buttar said the year long plan put forward by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) would improve healthcare for patients.

His support for the Prescribing Incentive Scheme comes after national reports criticised the idea of doctors receiving half the money saved when they cut the number of drugs given to patients.

But Dr Buttar said he agreed in principal with the idea, saying that savings made on expensive drugs will mean the money can be spent on healthcare elsewhere.

He said: “Prescribing incentive schemes have been around for 20 years, this one is only different in its scale.

“It has got nothing to do with going round nursing homes and stopping people’s drugs.

“Oxfordshire CCG gets an inadequate amount of money to provide healthcare for the county.

“It has to make savings for one pot to put that money into another pot.”

GP surgeries across the county have been asked to look at using fewer medicines without harming care, with a target of saving £2 per patient.

If they achieve it, surgeries will be paid £1 per patient and get half of any further savings.

The scheme aims to save at least £1.45m.

Dr Buttar added: “Nobody is suggesting anybody is going to get an inferior drug or a drug with more side effects or their health is going to suffer in anyway.

“The money the doctors will receive is not disappearing into their pockets so they can spend it on fast cars, it is going to pay for the time it takes for them to explain this scheme to patients.

“Some people may get a different brand of drug, others might be told that medication they are taking is not doing a great deal for them so it is going to be stopped.

“They are not getting any less of a drug but instead of paying £15 to £16 for branded, the non-branded drug would be £2 to £3.”

Dr Buttar said the LMC had advised surgeries to go in ‘with their eyes open’ as there were some structural problems with the scheme.

He added: “For example if 11 practices make savings but one in the locality blows the budget completely, they will average the savings over them all.

“Practices getting involved need to ensure others in the locality are also prepared to do as much as they can to save.”

Locality clinical director at the CCG Dr Paul Park said the scheme was to make sure patients were getting the right medication and benefits they needed.

He added: “Many frail elderly people have multiple health problems for which they take lots of different medications.

“This can lead to waste because people forget to take their drugs or suffer unpleasant side-effects and stop taking what has been prescribed.

“The scheme will be overseen by CCG which will work closely with local practices.

“Any savings will all be reinvested in care for patients, in GP practices and elsewhere.”