GPs advised to learn from PCT experiences of commissioning

GP consortia should learn from PCTs' experiences of commissioning and their use of external support agencies when they take on hard budgets, PCTs have said.

Talking at a King’s Fund event in London on Tuesday, Richard Alsop, director of strategy and system management at NHS Northamptonshire, said while the future 'does look very different' there are elements of what PCTs have been doing that will be relevant for GP consortia.

He said one of the main lessons for GPs is that they will need 'real clarity' about the role they play in the commissioning consortia, so they are clear about who is taking on the leadership roles and who has a supporting role within the group.

He said: ‘How are you playing in the collective skills – the internal and the external – into a team that is focused on delivering? If you don’t get that right you can trip yourself up.’

Mr Alsop also said the ‘cultural alignment’ of staff in commissioning is ‘absolutely critical’, so that everyone is on board to achieve the same vision.

‘As we move in to a very different world, I think that is going to be very important for the new [GP] consortia to have that aligned vision,’ he said.

Meanwhile, Chris Naylor, a senior researcher at the King’s Fund said some GP consortia might want to outsource responsibility for commissioning.

He said: ‘Outsourcing models [within commissioning] could become more prominent if there are groups of GPs who don’t want to be spending lots of time in commissioning activities and would rather hand over some of that to other people.’

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