Closing the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool on Friday, Mr Nicholson said the new system of commissioning will not be up and running by 2012, as health secretary Andrew Lansley hoped.
‘Even the most optimistic people in this room will not say we can get the new system up and running in the next few years or so. It simply isn’t going to be there,’ he told delegates.
He said even the most advanced practice-based commissioning groups require support from PCTs and it would be ‘dangerous’ to put a deadline on the complete handover of budgets.
‘Even the best practice-based commissioners are about three out of ten in relation to their ability to be a GP consortia,’ he said.
The NHS chief executive admitted he and the Treasury were ‘concerned’ about financial performance under the plans as news spreads through the conference that Mr Lansley’s plans may be pushed back.
‘We have to go through the process of getting a White Paper that is supported by all areas of government,’ he said.
The success of the scheme would also depend on negotiations with the BMA, he said.
Mr Nicholson todl the audience of NHS managers that the policy did not necessarily signal ‘the end’ for PCTs.