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Department of Health sets out GP consortiums’ reporting responsibilities

By Lilian Anekwe

GP consortiums will have a statutory duty to report on their financial accounts and patient feedback under the Government's plans for GP-led commissioning.

The roles and responsibilities of GP consortiums were fleshed out in a consultation document published by the Department of Health on Thursday.

According to the coalition Government's plans, consortiums will have a responsibility to report details of their financial management, with ‘essential requirements in relation to reporting, auditing and accounts' including publishing a commissioning plan and publishing details of their expenditure.

The document also sets out a string of contractual duties GP commissioners will face, including duties relating to equality, human rights, freedom of information and the Data Protection Act.

But the Government insisted it would not be ‘unduly prescriptive' about how consortiums will be regulated, or on the minimum or maximum size of a consortium.

‘There have been widespread variations in the size and population coverage of PCTs, and there is no evidence to suggest a single ‘right' size. The NHS Commissioning Board will nonetheless need to satisfy itself that consortia are of sufficient size to manage financial risk and allow for accurate allocations,' the document said.

The NHS Commissioning Board will also be tasked with scrutinising consortiums on their ability to show ‘responsiveness to the views and feedback of patients, carers and the public'.

Consortiums will also have to engage and consult the public when planning services and proposing any changes to the commissioning decisions in place in a local area.

‘One of the principal aims of GP commissioning is to make decisions more sensitive and responsive to the needs and wishes of patients and the public. Good communication and engagement with the public will, therefore, be vital.'

‘Both GP consortia and the NHS Commissioning Board will need to find and evolve efficient and effective ways of harnessing public voice so that commissioning decisions are increasingly shaped by people's expressed needs and wants.'

The Department of Health also published a consultation document, Local democratic legitimacy in health, outlining the proposed roles and responsibilities of local branches of HealthWatch, which will replace the current Local Involvement Networks, and the national body HeatlhWatch England – a new independent consumer group the DH proposes to establish as part of the Care Quality Commission.

The Department of Health has set out GP consortium's reporting responsiblities The Department of Health has set out GP consortium's reporting responsiblities