This site is intended for health professionals only

Health Bill to cull NHS management and give GPs power to commission

By Ian Quinn

The Government has revealed plans for a massive shake up of the NHS which will see GPs given a far bigger role in running trusts and a huge cull of management.

Under a new Health Bill unveiled in yesterday's Queen's Speech, the coalition revealed sweeping proposals to slash NHS bureaucracy and allow clinicians more power to run services.

It will lead to a big reduction in the power of both PCTs and SHAs, with the latter set to be downgraded to become outposts of a new independent health board.

The bill is also expected to be the signal for an even greater round of job losses than has been previously planned in NHS management, while the Department of Health confirmed that the Government was also planning to increase the severity of cuts in the health service this year despite it not featuring in the brutal round of cuts revealed earlier this week.

Contained in the bill are plans to:

• allow GPs to commission services on behalf of their patients instead of PCTs

• create an independent health board merging the function of the current DH and SHAs

• downgrade SHAs and slash health quangos is a bid to cut NHS administration costs by a third

• strengthen the role of the Care Quality Commission and develop the organisation Monitor into an economic regulator to oversee aspects of access and competition in the NHS.

A DH spokesperson said the independent board would lead to a ‘much more streamlined' way of working than that provided by the existing 10 SHAs.

She added: ‘In the meantime, SHAs will continue to have a vital role in delivering financial control and performance, and driving improvements in quality and productivity.'

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: 'The Health Bill will enable us to devolve power to patients and the NHS professionals that serve them. This in turn will drive a healthcare system which delivers continuous quality improvements in standards of care.

'Our proposals will help cut waste, and achieve health outcomes that are amongst the best in the world.'

But the DH confirmed that while the NHS had escaped any direct impact from the £6bn Government cuts announced earlier in the week, further cuts to NHS spending were to come, with the announcements suggesting that the coalition will step up, rather than scrap, the previous government's QIPP initiative.

‘Like all departments, we need to go further in delivering additional efficiencies in 2010/11 in order to reinvest in service priorities for improving outcomes for patients,' the DH said in a statement. 'Further details will be set out in the Budget.'

Re-organisation of DH will lead to massive management cuts Re-organisation of DH will lead to massive management cuts