GPs given power over treatment centres

GPs in Cumbria and Lancashire are to make key decisions on the future of the area's Clinical Assessment, Treatment and Support (CATS) service.

Alan Johnson

Last month the government scrapped a nationally-agreed contract with firm Netcare to run the schemes.

PCTs have decided to plough on with the service despite health secretary Alan Johnson’s decision last month that it would not provide value for money, and have decided GPs are best placed to take care of commissioning.

A key decision facing GPs will be whether the services should be run by a private firm or through the NHS.

Cumbria PCT chief executive Sue Page said: ‘It was felt that GPs, through practice-based commissioning had the knowledge to make such decisions surrounding CATS.’

Options being considered include commissioning from within the NHS, from GP practices or even Netcare, which could be offered a locally-agreed contract.

Cumbria PCT professional executive committee chairman Dr Ian Mitchell is delighted by the move saying it gives GPs, ‘the opportunity to take a fresh look at what’s best for the people of Cumbria’.

The CATS scheme is aimed at speeding up diagnosis and treatment and reduce the need for hospital visits, covering areas such as orthopaedics, rheumatology, general surgery, ENT, gynaecology and urology.

The DoH decision also affected a nearby CATS scheme in Greater Manchester, where Netcare was one of two providers alongside Care UK.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester PCTs said Care UK will now be the sole provider, with contract and financial discussions set to be finalised by early next year and the service up and running by the end of 2008.

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