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Private sector services to benefit under Government plans

By Gareth Iacobucci

GPs will be able to farm out the commissioning of whole services to the private sector under the Government's root and branch shake-up of the NHS, it has emerged.

The Department of Health's latest consultation on its GP commissioning overhaul says local consortiums will have the option of buying in support for specific services such as financial analysis, or devolving the commissioning of whole services to local authorities, social enterprises or private firms.

Commissioning for Patients says GPs will not necessarily need to carry out all commissioning activities themselves under the plans, and will have the freedom to buy in support to ‘analyse population health needs, manage contracts with providers and monitor expenditure and outcomes'.

The document provides further detail on how the Government plans to implement its far-reaching reforms and comes after Pulse revealed last week that a group of leading private companies are planning a major joint initiative to persuade GP consortiums to partner up with them, to carry out the ambitions laid out in the White Paper.

The direction of travel has been backed by former Tory health secretary, Stephen Dorrell, now chair of the health select committee, who said he supported a greater role for the private sector in the NHS commissioning, which he claimed was 'in the last chance saloon.'

Speaking at the Reform conference this morning, Mr Dorrell said the extent of the financial pressure facing the NHS meant it was highly unlikely there would be a large budget to fund the management support of GP commissioners, and said the answer was to bring companies in.

‘Lets ask where are the shortcuts that can be taken to use other people expertise,' he said. ‘It's the bringing in of new entrants that's the key.'

Stephen Dorrell MP