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PCTs block GPs from commissioning

Exclusive GPs claim they have been blocked from commissioning new services for two years amid warnings by a GP close to ministers that there is ‘anxiety' about the control PCTs are exerting over the NHS reforms.

Dr Peter Patel, chief executive of South Birmingham Independent Commissioners, said his group had been in charge of the full commissioning budget since last year, but had been blocked from commissioning new projects by local PCTs.

A GP in West Sussex who did not wish to be named said GPs there had also been blocked from accessing freed-up resources for commissioning, with money ‘disappearing'.

Dr Patel said: ‘There is a freeze on new projects and no investment strategy. The guidance was to let groups reinvest freed-up resources. But they've thrown the guidance out.'

‘Last year we had £1.2m freed up resources which helped balance the books of the PCTs but they wouldn't allow us to reinvest it.'

Dr Patel claiming his involvement has cost him £12,000 in the past year. He said: ‘My GPs are working at £48 an hour to carry out CCG functions. That act of good faith in trying to make a difference will disappear if the resource is not there.'

A spokesperson for Birmingham and Solihull PCT Cluster said it was ‘reviewing all current investments as part of QIPP'

He said: ‘CCGs are encouraged to put forward proposals backed by robust business cases, evidencing return on investment and in line with QIPP principles. However, funding for such schemes will not be ring fenced as freed up resources.'

Dr Paul Charlson, a GP in Grimsby and chair of Conservative Health, said ministers were concerned GPs could surrender the initiative to PCTs: ‘There is anxiety the vacuum will be filled with managers who are skilled at holding onto power. That was never the point of the bill.'

‘My concern, based on feedback from colleagues, is that GPs are starting to lose the initiative, and PCT clusters are starting to rear their heads as being powerful monsters who may take control if we're not careful, particularly with some of the weaker commissioning groups.'

Dr Charles Alessi, one of the pathfinder leads at Kingston Consortium, said it was imperative that CCGs were given the freedom to develop without interference from PCTs.

‘Unless we are really careful will just end up swapping the name on the door, this would be an absolute disaster after all the upheaval we have been going through.'

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