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News In brief

A round up of the latest developments affecting practice-based commissioners.

A round up of the latest developments affecting practice-based commissioners.

• The Audit Commission has urged the Department of Health to review the Secondary Uses Service – the data system attacked by GPs for providing unreliable or delayed reports on secondary care activity required under PBC.

The Department Of Health said it would confirm details of plans to improve timeliness of data from providers in the next version of the NHS operating framework, due out this month. Providers will face sanctions if they don't comply with the new standards.

The commission also revealed, in the report Putting commissioning into practice, that PBC is being blighted by thefailure of PCTs to engage practices or provide them with details on how PBC budgets are set.The report was based on a survey of 122 GPs and practice managers and visits to 16 PCTs. See www.audit-commission.gov.uk.

• GPs and other NHS staff could be offered a foundation course in commissioning thatwould act as a stepping stone into the Advanced Commissioning course launched in October.

The National Association of Primary Care is in talks with the Department of Health this month on funding for a preparatory course, after it found many applicants for the master's level programme were turned down because they didn't have the prerequisite of a current designated commissioning role (usually GPs) or a degree-level qualification (some PCT staff). Places on the university accredited Advanced Commissioning course are free. For more details see www.improvementfoundation.org.uk.

• GPs and other NHS staff could be offered a foundation course in commissioning that would act as a stepping stone into the Advanced Commissioning course launched in October.The National Association of Primary Care is in talks with the Department of Health this month on funding for a preparatory course,after it found many applicants for the master's level programme were turned down because they didn't have the prerequisite of a current designated commissioning role (usually GPs) or a degree-level qualification (some PCT staff).

• Professional executive committees have no real involvement in commissioning in nearly a quarter of PCTs, according to a survey carried out by the NHS Alliance.The East of England and North West strategic health authority areas were praised for ‘excellent,imaginative leadership', but too often there was ‘managerial/clinical tribalism along with worrying indications that clinical leaders are being sidelined, undervalued and undermined', said Dr Peter Reader,the alliance spokesperson on clinical leadership.

• An updated version of a tool has been released free across the NHS to help GPs and nurses identify patients with long-term conditions who are at PARR++ tool is more accurate, said the King's Fund,because it includes latest health trends,a wider range of information aboutn each patient,and the ability to sort date by condition,age or risk. See www.kingsfund.org.uk/parr.

• Two leading GP enthusiasts of PBC are advising health minister Lord Darzi on his review of the NHS. NHS Alliance chair Dr Michael Dixon was named PBC lead on Lord Darzi's primary care advisory board.National Association of Primary Care chair Dr James Kingsland will also sit on the board.The review's progress can be seen atwww.ournhs.nhs.uk, on which Lord Darzi writes a blog. Initial findings of his review called for 150 GP-led polyclinics to be opened,seven days a week.

• A fledgling Institute of Commissioning Professionals has been set up to raise the status of commissioners. Its inaugural board mostly comprises staff working in PCTs and councils,and i schaired by Lord Toby Harris,who has a backgroun din local government. See www.iocp.co.uk.

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