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Lansley to accelerate commissioning handover to GPs

By Ian Quinn

The Government has said it will accelerate the shift of commissioning responsibility to GPs after health secretary Andrew Lansley dismissed calls from the BMA for PCTs to be spared the axe.

Pulse has learned SHAs across the country are drawing up lists of GP consortia who are ‘ready to go' and will become the first wave of budget-holding GP consortia well before shadow consortia across the country take responsibility for commissioning in April 2012.

Mr Lansley told the Conservative party conference in Birmingham today he was determined to push ahead with the removal of PCTs, despite fears from the BMA and the RCGP yesterday calling for the handover to be put back to avoid GPs being pushed to breaking point.

But Mr Lansley said he would not repeat the ‘mistakes' of the Labour party in dropping reforms or slowing the pace just because they were controversial.

‘Together, we are pressing forward the health and social care reforms our country needs, with real purpose and pace,' he said.

‘It took Labour three years, after 1997, just to publish a plan about what they wanted to do in the NHS.'

‘There was no unity of purpose: a divided government, which picked up the baton of reform, but dropped it as soon as it got hot.'

The BMA has claimed it would be more cost effective to keep PCTs in place while boosting the commissioning powers of GPs, warning of financial chaos as trusts ‘implode' leaving ill-equipped GP consortia forced to take over.

In its response yesterday the RCGP also urged for a rethink on the timeframe.

But Pulse has learned the Government is ‘actively encouraging' SHAs to speed up the transition to GP consortia, with moves across the country being put into place to merge fledgling GP bodies with PCTs, in advance of a full takeover in 2013.

Dr James Kingsland, president of the NAPC, who has been appointed as a GP commissioning special adviser by the DH, said SHAs were in the process of identifying those GP consortia who were most advanced.

‘I know PCTs are informing SHAs of those groups that have indicated they are ready to go. What's happening is that GP consortia are being made a subcommittee of their PCTs and will start taking over control over commissioning budgets.'

Mr Lansley told the conference the ‘ambitious reforms' would ‘give doctors and nurses, rather than administrators, the power and responsibility to improve the quality of service they provide, and the budgets they use in providing it.'

He added that he would ‘make sure services which fail patients have nowhere to hide.'

He added: ‘Out go all the unjustifiable Government targets which made doctors and nurses – who just want to care for patients – dance to the Whitehall tune.

‘Out go two whole tiers of state-led management and oversight, reducing management costs by £850m by 2013/14. And out go half of the health quangos. ‘

Mr Lansley also revealed plans to provide £70 million to local NHS and councils this year to help patients have extra support after being discharged from hospital, which he claimed would provide support to 35,000 people over the next seven months.

The Government said the money for the project would go to PCTs in November and come out of savings elsewhere in the NHS.

Andrew Lansley: will not drop reforms just because they are controversial Andrew Lansley: will not drop reforms just because they are controversial The Commissioning Countdown… Are you prepared?

The clock is ticking the end of the consultation on proposals on next Monday for the health white paper - Liberating the NHS: commissioning for patients. With the end looming, there is still a huge amount of uncertainty within the healthcare community, with questions being thrown up around the work and responsibilities that will be involved in the ‘new' NHS.

Come to the NAPC Annual Conference to hear from Andrew Lansley, secretary of state for health and help answer your pressing questions.

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