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PBC news in brief

Too few PBC proposals being approved

Funding boost for PBC social enterprises

Evaluation of one-stop sexual health services

Focus on palliative care for children

Pharmacists should talk to GPs, not compete

Private firms take on commissioning contract talks

Too few PBC proposals being approved

Funding boost for PBC social enterprises

Evaluation of one-stop sexual health services

Focus on palliative care for children

Pharmacists should talk to GPs, not compete

Private firms take on commissioning contract talks

Too few PBC proposals being approved

Practices in the East Midlands are concerned that not enough of their PBC proposals are approved, according to a strategic health authority report. PCTs have admitted it has ‘taken time to get the basics rights for PBC, including budget setting and support available to practices', the report from NHS East Midlands adds.

PCTs have now appointed locality managers and recognise that good communications are key to improving practice perceptions of PBC. East Midlands' report was not ready for publication when the majority of other SHA assessments of PBC progress were published (see Practical Commissioning, February 2008, pages 34-35). London SHA's report is yet to be published.

Funding boost for PBC social enterprises

PBC consortiums that have adopted a social enterprise ethos could benefit from a national funding boost. On 27 February, care services minister Ivan Lewis announced an extra £27m for the national Social Enterprise Fund, bringing its total value to £100m. The fund is distributed to social enterprises working in health and social care, particularly those delivering care for the most vulnerable people.

The initial £73m fund was launched in January 2007 and has funded services such as the City of London Migraine Clinic – which is offering longer consultations at lower cost than both NHS and private sector competitors and reinvesting income into services – and Sit ‘N' ‘B' Fit, a Sunderland organisation providing seated and standing exercise classes to older and disabled people to promote independent living, reduce falls and improve self-esteem. The fund offers loans, grants, equity investments or a mixture of these.

A PBC consortium social enterprise was featured in the September 2007 issue of Practical Commissioning.

Evaluation of one-stop sexual health services

Commissioners considering one-stop shop (OSS) sexual health services can find out the pros and cons of the model in an evaluation published by the Department of Health. OSS services may offer a more comprehensive service – giving both STI treatment and contraceptive advice and supplies, offering longer consultations, and catering to different needs – such as gender-specific clinics – compared with traditional care such as GPs.

Resource constraints, a high demand for services, and lack of sufficient trained nurses in sexual health means commissioners might find it more feasible in the short term to encourage an integrated mindset across different service providers than focusing on building new OSS venues.

Evaluation of One-Stop Shop Models of Sexual Health Provision can be found at www.dh.gov.uk.

Focus on palliative care for children

Commissioners need to improve palliative care services for children, according to a new strategy launched by the Department of Health. Better Care: Better Lives calls for dying children to be given choice over where there are cared for in the last months of life and for stronger commissioning that collates data on local needs and secures more comprehensive services.

Alongside the strategy, the Department of Health announced a two-year extension in a national grant for children's hospices and hospice-at-home care. The original grant of £27m a year was to end in 2009, but will now run, at £10m a year, until 2011.

Pharmacists should talk to GPs, not compete

Pharmacists have been urged to ‘knock on the door' of local GPs, rather than compete with them, to start talks about how they can assist efforts to improve cost-effective prescribing under PBC. They have also been advised to try to secure pharmacist representation on PBC consortiums. And if they are not providing a medicines use review service, they should consider providing one and promoting its benefits to practices. These and other tips have been drawn up by the Improvement Foundation – see www.improvementfoundation.org.

Private firms take on commissioning contract talks

Private firms could take over negotiations with acute trusts on behalf of PCTs, the Department of Health has confirmed. ‘PCTs may wish to use the services of a private company in areas of commissioning including contract negotiations.

The PCT continues to be the responsible and accountable body for commissioning, but may choose to engage a private company to act on its behalf,' according to a FAQ document distributed to support the new model contract between PCTs and secondary care providers. Private companies are being brought in under the nationally negotiated framework for procuring external support for commissioners, known as FESC.

The same document says new targets on providing data on secondary care activity within five working days will not become mandatory until April 2009.

The document can be found in the section on the NHS Acute Services Contract at www.primarycare contracting.nhs.uk.

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