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PCTs ‘may miss community services deadline’

By Gareth Iacobucci

PCTs that are yet to fully divest their community services will struggle to meet the Government’s April 2011 deadline for full separation of their commissioner and provider arms, the NHS Confederation has warned.

A briefing paper by the confederation’s PCT Network warns that the requirement for all PCTs to have completed the transfer process by April 2011 ‘increases pressure to focus on process issues’ rather than a real transformation of services.

The PCT Network said there were ‘significant’ issues still to be resolved in the handover, including the handling of estates, and warned GP-led commissioning and the Any Willing Provider policy also presented big challenges for providers of community services moving forward.

It said: ‘We are concerned that those that have yet to fully agree future options will not be able to complete them in six months.’

David Stout, director of the PCT Network, said: ‘We must not forget that in the midst of these changes NHS organisations still need to make significant savings. These services must be able to truly transform the way patients receive care while at the same time doing more for less money. If this is not achieved on a broad scale, all we will have will be another expensive reorganisation of services.’

He added: ‘We know community services will play an even bigger role in the NHS in the future as we move more care out of hospitals.’

‘Managing this change will require a shift in culture and relationships, particularly with the GP community and local authorities who will have a greater role in deciding how NHS services are shaped.’

David Stout: ‘Significant’ issues still to be resolved David Stout: ‘Significant’ issues still to be resolved