By Ian Quinn
GP leaders have expressed alarm at the thousands of PCT staff set to be transferred to consortia, warning a large proportion of them will not have the skills to run consortia.
It comes as in London it was revealed tens of thousands of staff are set to be transferred to consortia, way in advance of the Government's April 2013 target.
GPs have been warned they face an influx of PCT staff lacking the skills and qualifications required to run consortia but that they could end up liable for expensive employment protection rights and legal responsibility for the decisions made over services in the run up to the launch of fully-fledged GP commissioning.
Under the looming transfer, GP consortia would be forced to take on all contractual rights and provide the same terms of conditions of employment for staff as PCTs, under so-called TUPE rules, giving GP consortia a huge new responsibility as employers, with 75% of PCT staff across England predicted to cross the divide.
In guidance released today, Londonwide LMCs, produced a template letter for consortia, urging them to write to PCTs requiring them to provide proof of the suitability of all staff being lined up to be transferred.
Dr Michelle Drage, chief executive of Londonwide LMCs, said she was ‘gobsmacked' at the numbers of staff being lined up to transfer and concerned that GPs could end up replicating PCT structures.
‘In London we have 31 PCTs which are looking to dramatically reduce the numbers of staff and we understand that the timetable is going to be brought forward.
‘We are talking about huge numbers of staff. There are 2,000 in north west London alone.'
She added: ‘GP consortia need to make sure they are getting people who have the right qualities to be useful and not just taken on thousands of staff who will not be useful.
'The message we want to put out is that we must not replicate PCTs or their behaviour and must not simply take on staff and expensive employment rights for people who don't have the skills required'
‘Frankly it is not GPs' concern what happens to these people.'