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MPs attack 'cavalier' restructuring of PCTs

Practice-based commissioning has been set back by at least 18 months as a result of the Government's 'ill-judged' restructuring of PCTs, a committee of MPs has concluded.

The House of Commons Health Select Committee labelled the 'Commissioning a Patient Led NHS' process as 'incoherent' and 'cavalier'.

MPs also condemned the Department of Health for pushing ahead with the restructuring, which will see the number of PCTs more than halved, in advance of the Community Health White Paper.

The move made 'a mockery of the consultative process', the committee said.

Its report concluded: 'Just as the benefits of PCTs (established in 2002) are about to be realised, the Government has decided to restructure them. The cycle of perpetual change is ill-judged and not conducive to the successful provision and improvement of health services.'

MPs suggested the Government allowed PCTs to 'develop organically' and that a central change agency be set up to spread best practice and support poorly performing PCTs.

The department insisted the changes were not an enforced 'top-down' exercise, despite ministers having demanded a minimum of 15 per cent efficiency savings.

The pace of the change was needed to 'avoid a prolonged period of change and uncertainty', it said in evidence to the committee.

Leading health care organisations backed the findings.

The BMA said the proposals had caused confusion. King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson called the changes 'cack-handed'.

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