DoH to ease burden on GP consortia by scrapping PCT functions

A list of PCT duties being split between GP consortia and local authorities should be 'rewritten completely', with much of it 'assigned to history', according to a DoH adviser.

Dr Kingsland: old PCT functions need to be rewritten and need to be radically different
Dr Kingsland: old PCT functions need to be rewritten and need to be radically different

Dr James Kingsland, DoH national clinical director for practice-based commissioning in England, said much of a 283-point list compiled by the DoH and the NHS Confederation PCT Network was unnecessary.

‘This is what PCTs used to do. They are being abolished, and their functions are gone,’ he said. ‘We have to rewrite this list and it has to be radically different.’

Health secretary Andrew Lansley, addressing GPs in Merseyside last week, confirmed ‘many’ functions will be abolished.

‘The things you are being asked to do are the things you know most about,’ Mr Lansley said. ‘Many functions will go to local authorities and many will be abolished. The NHS Commissioning Board will take on others – that leaves designing clinical services to you.’

PCT Network director David Stout said it remains unclear who will be responsible for IT, estates and safeguarding and support services.

Work was being done to ‘downsize’ the list of functions but none would be easy to abolish, he said.

‘We are assuming as management capacity goes down there is a need to trim down these functions.

‘I suspect it will be quite difficult to do as just because they are less important it doesn’t mean they just don’t need to happen,’ Mr Stout said.

Who is made responsible for the provision of health visitors could also prove to be a contentious issue, he said.

The DoH will publish a detailed breakdown of GP consortia’s duties in an NHS operating framework in December.

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