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No Hewitt action on PBC

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has criticised PCTs for not helping GPs in delivering practice-based commissioning.

But the Department of Health told Pulse there were no plans to dish out 'sanctions' or 'punishment' for PCTs who do not support GPs.

This is despite Ms Hewitt insisting last year that PCTs would be 'held to account' if they failed to encourage commissioning. Strategic health authorities will be monitoring GP participation.

Although department statistics show that 94 per cent of surgeries have signed up to PBC, Ms Hewitt told a King's Fund conference on commissioning that some PCTs were struggling to get commissioning under way.

She said: 'A lot of practices really want to run with it but some are frustrated because they are not getting support from PCTs.

'On the other hand the challenge PCTs face is that some practices are either not interested or do not have the capacity to do commissioning.'

Ms Hewitt urged more GPs to form commissioning consortiums so that they have access to support and advice from a network of colleagues.

Dr David Schubaker, a GP in Redbridge, London, and chair of Redbridge and Waltham Forest LMC, said the problem was that many PCTs were too hard up to help GPs.

'GPs here were pioneers of PBC but now it has gone down the drain. It is PCT-based commissioning. The PCT wants services in the community but it has not trained GPs to do them.

'We need nurses and health visitors to deliver a lot of the services but there are not enough of them.'

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