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Senior manager tells PCTs to hand over budgets and staff now

One of the country’s most senior NHS managers has urged PCTs to begin seconding staff and handing over budgets to GP consortia now in order to ensure a credible financial legacy in 2013.

NHS London chief executive Ruth Carnall urged PCTs to move much faster than the timetable set out by the Government, arguing it will prove too expensive to run both organisations in parallel until 2013.

She said she did not want GPs to feel like ex-Treasury secretary David Laws, who famously received a note from his predecessor Liam Byrne saying ‘there’s no money left’, she said.

Her call follows Pulse’s story yesterday revealing that consortia will receive their management allowance from April 2011 in order to prepare for the handover, and comes amid warnings from GP leaders that the Government’s commissioning reforms could be jeopardised by mass staffing layoffs in PCTs.

Speaking at the London Health 2010 conference in north London, Ms Carnall urged PCTs to funnel their resources into consortia as soon as possible, and said she believed managers should be seconding staff and committing funding to consortia now, rather than waiting for further directives from central Government.

She said: ‘We want to handover a credible legacy to GPs as commissioners. Do you remember the minister who was appointed in the Treasury after the election, and arrived to find a note saying “sorry mate, there’s money left”. The position I don’t want is where we’re handing over something that says “sorry, we’ve left it in a bit of a mess”.’

She added: ‘My strong view is that we should release as much money and people as we can to help GPs develop their consortia now. We can’t do it if we try and run every organisation right up until the end. There’ll be no money left, and no people left.’

‘Although the reforms are set out as a two to three year period, I think it would be a huge mistake to simply go at the pace that the legislation dictates. Let’s see how far we can take these changes right now.’

Health secretary Andrew Lansley told Pulse last week of his plans to hand GPs management cash to help set up consortia from next April, but made it clear that the Government would not write off PCT debts, and urged GPs to work closely with trusts to ensure they do not start off with huge financial deficits.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey warned that the reforms could be derailed by PCT staff leaving their posts.

Appearing in front of the Health Committee on Tuesday, Dr Vautrey said: ‘We do have serious concerns that senior PCT managers are leaving the PCT and taking redundancies. We’ve already got examples where whole departments of people have taken redundancy.’

Dr Vautrey added: ‘It’s quite possible for PCT managers to be seconded to emerging GP consortia. We’re already seeing that in some areas.

‘These are the very people we need in the future to make these changes wor

Ruth Carnall, NHS London Ruth Carnall