DoH survey shows PBC has taken a step backwards

Practice-based commissioning (PBC) appears to have gone into reverse, with fewer PBC groups receiving budgets and agreeing commissioning plans.

Dr Jenner believes consortium working is increasingly seen as viable
Dr Jenner believes consortium working is increasingly seen as viable

The DoH has published the results of its PBC group and independent leads survey: wave 2, and has compared the data with a similar survey published on 8 December last year.

The new report finds 80 per cent of PBC groups have received PBC budgets from their PCTs, as opposed to 84 per cent in the previous survey.

It also finds that 76 per cent of PBC groups have agreed a commissioning plan with their PCTs, compared with 80 per cent previously.

The report said that the next survey would reveal whether or not this was a trend.

Dr David Jenner, PBC lead at the NHS Alliance, said the changes were 'very small'.

But he said that PBC seemed to be slipping in popularity.

'The word on the block is that PBC is dead and "clinical commissioning" is coming,' he said. 'To make the savings, it is about delivering services that will take outwards - you cannot do that with micro-commissioning.'

Dr Jenner said that consortium working, in which acute trusts, PBC groups and PCTs worked together, was increasingly seen as a good option.

'All of those people are getting around the table and trying to find a way forward.'

But GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said these types of arrangements could be hampered by distrust.

'In some areas there is still a sense that there is direct competition between acute providers and PBC groups. If we can get beyond that then it would be a good thing,' he said.

The fall in numbers of PBC groups agreeing plans and receiving budgets was a sign of the times, said Dr Vautrey.

'Many PCTs are so concerned with financial targets and the quality, innovation, productivity and prevention (QIPP) agenda that they have taken their eye off the ball with PBC,' he said.

'It is a shame, when the rhetoric in Whitehall is about empowering GPs to have a greater role in commissioning, that we do not see the evidence.'

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