GP surgeries across the Midlands are among the best in England, according to new performance figures published yesterday.
Data from the Quality and Outcomes Framework, part of the new GP contract, showed the average score for each practice nationally was 959 out of a maximum of 1,050 - 91 per cent of the points on offer.
The surgeries' performance was assessed from April 2004 across 153 separate targets, including access, patient experience, clinical areas, and organisation.
The clinical areas covered include coronary heart disease, stroke, blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and asthma.
The statistics revealed 14 of the 29 primary care trusts across Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and Worcestershire received above average ratings. The highest ranking PCT in the region was South Warwickshire, which scored 97.9 per cent - the sixth highest in England.
But Wednesbury and West Bromwich PCT received the Midlands' lowest score of 78.5 per cent.
The NHS Alliance, which represents primary care trusts, said the DoH budgeted for an average of 730 points. But the high scores meant the incentive scheme could cost about £200 million more than expected.
A total of 8,486 practices in England were assessed on criteria including appointment times, chronic disease care and provision of flu jabs to those most at risk.
The DoH said an average sized GP practice with an average score would receive £74,299 extra funding.
Under the payment system, the more points the practice achieves and the more services they provide, the more money they earn.
Dr Satya Sharma, a member of the British Medical Association's GPs Committee, was celebrating as his Bilston surgery scored 98 per cent.
He said: "The work that GPs do in improving patient outcomes reduces the work for hospitals, as people become more aware of their own health issues.
"I think next year's results will show improvements all round because the surgeries will be looking to improve not only their performance but also their financial reward.
"Certainly QOF has been a success this year, particularly as so many practices have signed up voluntarily, there's no doubt it's spurred surgeries to strive for better results."
Health Minister Lord Warner said: "This new system gives the NHS worldleading intelligence on chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease."