By Nigel Praities
GPs will have to honour ‘white elephant’ contracts signed by PCTs when they take on responsibility for commissioning from 2013, health secretary Andrew Lansley has warned.
His comments – made at the RCGP conference in Harrogate – mean GP consortia in some areas are likely to remain saddled with long and expensive contracts for underutilised Darzi centres and other schemes.
Andrew Lansley said any contracts would have to be transferred to GP consortia in 2013 and that GPs would have to ‘get the best value they can’ out of them.
His comments were in response to a question from Dr Mary Selby, a GP in Suffolk, who said her local Darzi centre had an expensive four year contract and was offering poor quality care.
‘It is a white elephant in the hundred acre wood. It is expensive, it is consuming resources and is offering poor quality outcomes and is potentially destructive. It has a four year contract left to run. How can you make sure that the new organisations are not drowned at birth by the mistakes and debts of the old ones?’ she asked.
Mr Lansley said: ‘I wasn’t an advocate for the imposition of Darzi centres. But I have to tell you that a contract is a contract.’
‘For the continuing life of that contract you will have the responsibility to use that contractual relationship to get the best value you can out of that facility and service. Beyond the life of that contract you will be able to make new decisions.’
Mr Lansley did hint the Department of Health was looking at how GP consortia could have ‘as few inherited problems as we can possibly manage’.
Dr Mary Selby: Darzi centres are ‘white elephants’ Dr Mary Selby: Darzi centres are ‘white elephants’