Consortia to 'police' primary care quality

GP consortia will have a statutory duty to monitor quality and access in colleagues' practices, DoH documents reveal.

Dame Barbara Hakin: consortia function document is helpful to GPs (Photograph: UNP)
Dame Barbara Hakin: consortia function document is helpful to GPs (Photograph: UNP)

A long-awaited list of consortia functions has been published by the DoH as a 'working document' that may change.

It says consortia will have a statutory duty to help the NHS Commissioning Board improve primary care services.

This could include 'reviewing the quality and accessibility of services provided' by member practices and 'identifying poor performance at practice and/or practitioner level'.

The list is signed by GP representatives including RCGP chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada and NHS Alliance chairman Dr Michael Dixon.

DoH director of commissioning development, Dame Barbara Hakin, said the document was 'a helpful summary to which busy GPs and emerging consortia can refer'.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the GPC was still looking to shape how consortia and the NHS Commissioning Board interact.

NHS Alliance GMS/PMS lead Dr David Jenner said he 'would rather consortia police GPs than a distant and remote NHS Commissioning Board'.

The DoH document defines which services GP consortia will commission and which will move to the Board.

Dr Jenner said the list of responsibilities was 'broadly as expected' but fewer PCT functions appeared to have been scrapped than expected.

The overall function of consortia is described as commissioning healthcare 'to the extent the consortium considers necessary' for member practices' patients.

Consortia must also cater for unregistered patients in their area, and any patients requiring emergency care.

The list of specific duties includes commissioning community health, maternity care, emergency and out-of-hours care, services for older people and children.

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