The Department of Health has indicated GP deaneries could be retained in a similar form after SHAs are abolished, and accepted an NHS Future Forum recommendation for clinicians to be given ‘a greater say' in how their functions are handled.
The forum raised concerns about the potential risks of the plans, with its chair Professor Steve Field highlighting ‘genuine concerns' over a lack of evidence and possible loss of expertise.
A DH spokesperson said: ‘We have accepted the Future Forum's recommendation that employers and professionals should have a greater say in developing their local health workforce.'
'It will be for local decision on how deanery functions are organised within each LETB and whether the titles of postgraduate dean and deanery are retained.'
The DH said local boards would need to operate at sufficient scale to ensure a ‘safe transition', and that ‘no monopoly interests dominate.'
It suggested ‘a scale not too dissimilar to current deaneries, taking account of the need to operate efficiently and within the cap set for running costs.'
But Professor Bill Irish, a GP in Radstock, Somerset, and chair of the GP National Recruitment Office, said he still held concerns about the future of GP education: ‘I am particularly anxious that the agendas of large acute foundation trusts will distort decisions made by LETBs to favour the status quo rather than to support the continued move of healthcare delivery out into primary care.'