Burnham backs Treasury 'block' to GP commissioning plans

Health experts and NHS managers have expressed concern over health secretary Andrew Lansley's commissioning proposals amid speculation the plans will be rejected by the Treasury.

Mr Burnham: Health Secretary could 'turn NHS from order to chaos'
Mr Burnham: Health Secretary could 'turn NHS from order to chaos'

At the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool, King’s Fund chief executive Anna Dixon said she thought the policy was ‘formed in a different era’, when funding was less restricted.

She suggested next month’s health White Paper could be delayed while the Treasury assess the financial risk of the policy. 'We may see the White Paper delayed while they work out if this is a plan for today,' she said.

The Guardian reports on Friday that the Treasury has sent the White Paper back to Mr Lansley for further reassurance about how GPs will be accountable for managing up to £80 billion of the NHS budget.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham used the social networking site Twitter to exclaim 'god bless the Treasury'.

'Lansley's on a 1-man mission to turn NHS from order to chaos. They're right to block him,' he wrote.

A Treasury spokesperson said: ‘The Treasury and DoH are working closely together to implement the coalition agreement as it applies to health.’ 

Acting NHS Confederation chief executive Nigel Edwards said Mr Lansley’s vision had ‘huge potential’ but was concerned about the transition between the current system and GP-led commissioning.

‘We could see a situation where GPs do not step up to this and hand over their commissioning to the private sector, and they become the new bureaucrats,’ he told delegates.

NHS managers at the conference held discussions on the ‘residual’ role that PCTs may be left with.

Mr Lansley confirmed that GPs will be contracted directly to the new independent NHS board, which will also oversee and ‘support’ commissioning by GP-led consortia.

The health secretary also said GPs providing services ‘beyond their primary medical services’ would ‘clearly have to be managed by someone else’ to avoid conflicts of interest between commissioners and providers.

BBC Radio 4’s Sarah Montague, chairing the conference, asked Mr Lansley if the Treasury backed his plan to hand financial control of vast swathes of the NHS budget to GPs. 

 ‘How well did PCTs achieve financial control in 2005/6? Not that well,’ he told the audience, made up of many NHS managers. ‘Just because you have PCTs does not mean you have financial control.’

He promised that further details on the practical implications of his plans would be revealed in next month’s White Paper.

News blog: Munching managers consider their future

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