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PCT changes a threat to PBC

By Helen Crump

The NHS is set for a year of 'stagnation' and 'stultification' as a result of the Government's restructuring of PCTs, GPs warn.

GPs predicted a 'blight' of senior managers, with some of the 152 new PCTs in England not expected to have top-level management structures in place until next February.

The merged PCTs, which replace the 302 trusts currently in existence, officially come into being from 1 October.

GPs said the vacuum in PCT management could have serious implications for the development of practice-based commissioning in particular.

Dr Simon Parkinson, Worcestershire LMC secretary, where three PCTs are to become one, said: 'We won't have a chief executive or chair until August and not all the key players until next February because of the appointment procedures.'

He added: 'History shows when they rush into things they usually make a pig's ear of it.'

Dr Brian Balmer, chief executive of Essex LMCs, said he knew of no timetable for appointing chief executives to its five PCTs. 'Our chance of stagnation is fairly high,' he said.

Dr Balmer added that the LMC had opposed the choice of five PCTs because it exactly matched the five acute trusts in the county. He said: 'There's a danger they will continue to dominate.'

Dr Mike Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance and a GP in Cullompton, Devon, said practice-based commissioning would be affected unless PCTs ensured they had good local managers working with GPs and commissioning clusters.

He said: 'There is definitely an issue of senior management blight over the next months.

'There is also a fly in the ointment in that there is a freeze on PCT management places.'

Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC chair, believed the reorganisation would lead to a 'stultification of work'. He said: 'This is at best a distraction and at worst a wasteful use of scarce resources.'

Dr Robert Morley, secretary of Birmingham LMC, said GPs in the region were 'very disappointed' that their call for a single PCT for the city had been ignored.

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