Rift forms over who should manage GP contracts

The NHS Confederation has joined calls for GP consortia to manage GP contracts, while the NHS Alliance has opposed such proposals.

The White Paper proposes that England's 8,000 GP contracts will be held by the new NHS Commissioning Board. But both the NHS Confederation and the National Association of Primary Care have now called for the contracts to be held or at least overseen by GP consortia

The NHS Alliance, which also published its response to the White Paper consultations this week, says GP consortia should not hold GP contracts or they will become 'local enforcers'. 

Dr Michael Sobanja, NHS Alliance chief executive, said 'the direction of travel is right.'

The NHS Confederation response argues the government should 'give the NHS Commissioning Board the power to delegate responsibility for contract management of GMS and PMS contracts to GP consortia where appropriate.

'If GP consortia are not directly holding the GMS/PMS contracts of local practices, they will need some other powers to intervene when a practice’s performance as a primary care provider is impacting on the overall performance of the consortium.'

The NHS Alliance said that the NHS Commissioning Board 'should delegate the power to hold
providers to account, but retain the responsibility for contractual performance.'

This would prevent mean GP consortia act as collectives rather than being 'used as local enforcers,' the report said.

The NHS Confederation has published a comprehensive set of papers in response to the consultation - but warns the scale and cost of the reform will distract the NHS from the financial challenge it faces.

The NHS Alliance says the reforms offer significant opportunity to improve services and says the timescale is manageable. Dr Michael Sobanja, NHS Alliance chief executive, said 'the direction of travel is right.'

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