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Commissioning ‘can be done at practice level’

By Nigel Praities

GP consortiums will be able to devolve their new commissioning responsibilities to a ‘sub-consortium or practice level', the Government has revealed.

It has also watered down previous statements that consortiums would not be able to commission GP services directly.

In its consultation paper on the GP commissioning plans, published today, the Department of Health says GPs will be free to focus their input on aspects of commissioning that ‘will most benefit from their clinical insight and expertise.'

‘Consortia will also have the freedom to arrange for some commissioning activities to be undertaken at a sub-consortium or practice level, where that is appropriate and where the necessary internal controls are in place,' it reads.

The health White Paper – published last week – said consortiums would not be ‘directly responsible for commissioning services that GPs themselves provide'.

But the latest document reveals that although GP practices will hold their contracts with the NHS Commissioning Board, consortiums will still be able to commission GP services from its constituent practices ‘subject to safeguards'.

‘A consortium may need to arrange for some of its GP practices to provide primary care services over and above those that they already have a duty to provide, subject to safeguards to ensure fairness, transparency and competition.

‘We will take forward further work to identify the most suitable contractual framework for services of this kind.'

Health White Paper