Editorial: Don't let PCTs undermine GP commissioning

In all but a few shining pockets of the NHS, GPs' relationship with primary care organisations has never been plain sailing.

In England, PCTs have entered what looks like the final stages of their existence with clear instructions that GPs, via emerging consortia, should at last be involved in any decisions they take. Despite predictable reluctance from some managers to embrace GPs after spending years in an often adversarial relationship, many PCTs have finally brought out the peace pipe.

GP reveals this week that some GP consortia have been handed control of huge proportions of PCT budgets, a step that shows real confidence on managers' part in their ability to commission effectively.

But as ever with change in the NHS, progress is not straightforward.

LMCs have warned in recent weeks that GP consortia must beware of exposing themselves to legal liability for commissioning decisions. As statutory bodies, PCTs enjoy protection that consortia may not have unless they obtain written agreements establishing themselves effectively as subcommittees of the PCT.

But, on the other hand, getting too close to PCTs may carry a long-term danger.

Legal experts point out in this week's issue that PCTs may have an ulterior motive for getting close to consortia.

GP has reported that many PCTs are offering support from their staff for consortia.

But lawyers say this practice, along with subcommittee status, could mean consortia become liable under employment law for the jobs of PCT staff when the organisations are abolished, and for huge redundancy payments if they are unable to offer these staff long-term posts.

This is yet another confounding factor for the many willing GPs who have embraced the commissioning role the government wants them to take on.

Unless ministers get the Health Bill back on track soon, and ministers act to maintain the momentum of consortia, many GPs may yet walk away.


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

CCGs to be stripped of commissioning role under reforms backed by NHS England

CCGs to be stripped of commissioning role under reforms backed by NHS England

CCGs could be stripped of their commissioning role under plans set out by NHS England,...

Shielding advice updated to reflect return to tiered system on 2 December

Shielding advice updated to reflect return to tiered system on 2 December

The government has updated its guidance for patients on the shielding list to reflect...

Hospitals should be fined for dumping workload on general practice, say LMCs

Hospitals should be fined for dumping workload on general practice, say LMCs

Hospitals should be fined for inappropriate transfers of work to primary care and...

Primary care staff will be among first to receive COVID-19 vaccine, says NHS England

Primary care staff will be among first to receive COVID-19 vaccine, says NHS England

Primary care staff will be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it...

Coronavirus: Key guidance GPs need to know about COVID-19

Coronavirus: Key guidance GPs need to know about COVID-19

GPonline provides an overview of the key guidance relating to coronavirus, including...

'Host practice' to receive all COVID-19 vaccine payments in each area

'Host practice' to receive all COVID-19 vaccine payments in each area

A single 'host' practice will receive all COVID-19 enhanced service payments for...