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Timetable for Transforming Community Services comes under fire

The timetable for Transforming Community Services(TCS) has come under fire amid reports that some GPs are not being considered as possible providers.

The NHS Operating Framework that came out in December announced a deadline of March 31 for PCTs to have their plans approved ‘in principle' with their SHAs on the new organisational form TCS will take in their area.

The move has led many to speculate that most PCTs will opt to vertically integrate with their acute trust, making trusts larger, but contradicting policy drives to make secondary care smaller.

One GP in the Midlands who did not wish to be named told Practical Commissioning's sister paper Pulse that trusts were favouring secondary care providers.

‘The only organisation deemed to have the necessary governance are acute and mental health trusts. We have a social enterprise but we have never been allowed by the PCT to exercise that or demonstrate that the governance is there because we're not deemed suitable to tender. He added: ‘There's been no discussion with GPs who are supposed to be commissioning these services and this makes a mockery of practice-based commissioning.'

NAPC chair, Dr Johnny Marshall, said he wasn't surprised by the reports and had raised concerns with the DH about the timescale.

‘When such a group of people will have to relocate and have other employment issues, having to make an agreement in principle by March 31 almost makes it impossible to look at how to break up the services and decide what would sit more closely to practices.

NHS Alliance chair, Dr Mike Dixon echoed the same concerns.

He said: ‘The default position is going to be vertical integration with hospital sectors which is a large step back to where we were 30 years ago.

‘People need time to get their plans together. As always, it's an organisational fix instead of allowing time to speak to colleagues and practice-based commissioners.

Dr Marshall said the latest DH document spelt out who could apply to tender and that those who felt this guidance had not been followed should go to the Competition and Cooperation panel.