In a letter to PCT and SHA directors, DoH director of commissioning development Dame Barbara Hakin reveals the National Commissioning Board will take over responsibility for England's 152 GP-led health centres when PCTs are abolished.
It means GP consortia will not have the power to close the controversial health centres, imposed in each PCT area by Labour in 2008/09.
But she said the 'only possible exception' might be where a consortium and their PCT can arrange for centres with very few registered patients to become an urgent care centre, the letter says. The consortium could then manage the centre as part of their urgent care responsibilities and registered patients would be 'transferred to other primary care providers.'
Dame Barbara wrote that the NHS Commissioning Board will take over the 'Darzi' contracts from 2013 onwards and 'evaluate the case for re-commissioning list-based services.' GP-led health centres could also be managed by local authorities, the letter says.
Contracts for the 100 new APMS GP practices created in deprived areas under Labour's 'equitable access' scheme will also be handed to the NHS Commissioning Board. PCTs currently running these practices will receive an additional £1.1m in their baseline funding in 2011/12, the letter says.