DoH push on PBC fails

Commissioning - Fewer practices submit PBC plans and get budgets.

Practice-based commissioning (PBC) activity has fallen in the months since the DoH's latest attempt to revive the flagging scheme.

The DoH published Clinical Commissioning: Our Vision for PBC in March to rejuvenate the stagnating policy.

But wave seven of the DoH's quarterly surveys, conducted between April and June, reveals a slight decline in the number of practices submitting plans (down 2 per cent to 62 per cent) and receiving budgets (down 2 per cent to 67 per cent).

A quarter of the 9,000 general practices in England are chosen at random for the quarterly survey.

The DoH said the results may be 'partially explained' by the most recent wave being at the start of the financial year.

Despite most GPs rating their relationship with their PCT as good (76 per cent), there is still massive regional variation, with 70 per cent of GPs in Devon describing their relationship as poor or very poor.

A DoH spokeswoman said that more practices than ever were commissioning services through PBC, with nine out of 10 practices in a PBC group, and more support and guidance was being given to PCTs.

'PCTs will be aware that failure to provide the necessary support to commissioners will impact on their World Class Commissioning assurance results,' she said.

The NHS Alliance's PBC lead, Dr David Jenner, said the DoH's latest report had 'promised a lot but delivered little.' Although PBC has not been a priority for PCTs or GPs recently as swine flu sweeps the country, there are still problems getting business cases approved and accessing PBC savings, said Dr Jenner.

'The reality is that the main driver for PBC is the ability to make savings. The problem in Devon, for example, is that they have been reclaimed by a PCT struggling financially,' he added.

The stagnation of PBC will concern the DoH, after Lord Ara Darzi set out plans to introduce a similar scheme for hospital consultants before he resigned as health minister.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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