41% of consortia hold PCT budgets

Consortia controlling billions of pounds in NHS funding could be forced to merge or rethink their commissioning plans after the DoH response to the listening exercise, GPs have warned.

Dr Findlay: 'There is a danger senates won't allow small consortia'
Dr Findlay: 'There is a danger senates won't allow small consortia'

Responses from 99 PCTs under the Freedom of Information Act show that 41 per cent of GP consortia control PCT budgets.

In some cases, entire PCT commissioning budgets have been devolved to GP consortia, the GP investigation found.

NHS North Lancashire has devolved its entire PCT budget to local consortia.

NHS Stoke-on-Trent has dev­olved 80 per cent of its budget, worth £285 million, to one consortium. Warrington PCT has also devolved 80 per cent of its budget, worth £250 million, to a single consortium.

Conversely, some PCTs have devolved smaller amounts. NHS Great Yarmouth & Waveney has devolved 0.6 per cent of its budget, which equates to £2.5 million.

NHS Bournemouth and Poole has devolved just 0.5 per cent, or £3 million of its budget.

But the DoH response to the listening exercise has raised fears that organisations that do not yet exist could force consortia to change their plans or merge.

Health and wellbeing boards, which will be controlled by local authorities, will have a role in approving consortia to bec­ome statutory organisations.

Around 15 clinical senates, multidisciplinary groups of clinicians the DoH plans to set up across England, will also have a say in deciding whether consortia are approved.

Consortia that achieve statutory status will then need to have their commissioning plans app­roved by these groups.

County Durham and Darlington consortium chairman Dr Stewart Findlay said: ‘I’m concerned that regional clinical senates may think consortia have to be bigger to work. Senates can influence the authorisation process. Because of their size, there is a danger they won’t allow small consortia.’
Wessex LMCs chief executive Dr Nigel Watson warned that some local authorities saw health and wellbeing boards as ‘a chance for them to run health’.

Plans to allow councils to appoint a majority of local councillors to the boards ‘don’t seem very balanced or likely to get commissioning groups engaged’, he warned.

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