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PCTs admit 'appalling failures'

PCTs lack the infrastructure or expertise to take practice-based commissioning forward, senior managers have admitted.

Pauline Quan Arrow, chair of Southampton City PCT, told GPs at the NHS Alliance spring conference last week that although PCTs were doing their best, they were struggling to cope with reorganisation, limited resources and lack of staff expertise.

'We have failed appallingly,' she admitted. 'We're an eight year-old PCT, we have financial balance – and we're still getting it wrong.'

Lack of accurate information and budgetary detail was of particular concern, she added.

'We are still financially flawed. We don't have the basic information of how much things cost.'

Claire Old, service improvement director at Telford PCT, said it was important GPs understood the constraints under which PCTs operate.

'We're often seen as the bad guys, but all we're trying to do is promote the best care for patients,' she said.'PBC is multidisciplinary, it's not just about doctors.'

Gary Belfield, director of programmes in the Department of Health's Commissioning Directorate, said it would be 'unfair' to blame all PBC problems on PCTs.

'We just need to start,' he said. 'The places where PBC is working is where they've just started with what they have.'

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