The document is signed by representatives from several GP groups including RCGP chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada and NHS Alliance chairman Dr Michael Dixon.
The DoH’s director of commissioning development, Dame Barbara Hakin, said the document was ‘a helpful summary to which busy GPs and emerging consortia can refer.’
The long-awaited list of consortia's functions has been published as a 'working document' that may change over time.
It says consortia will have a statutory duty to assist and support the National Commissioning Board's efforts to improve primary care services.
This could include 'reviewing the quality and accessibility of services provided by GP practices that are members of the consortium,' and 'identifying poor performance at practice and/or practitioner level,' the document says.
The DoH document also defines which services GP consortia will commission and which will move to the NHS Commissioning Board.
GP consortia will be responsible for:
- Community health services (except where part of the public health service).
- Maternity services.
- Elective hospital care.
- Urgent and emergency care including A&E, ambulance and out-of-hours services.
- Older people’s healthcare services.
- Healthcare services for children, including those with complex healthcare needs (except for those specialised services commissioned by the NHS CB).
- Rehabilitation services.
- Wheelchair services.
- Healthcare services for people with mental health conditions.
- Healthcare services for people with learning disabilities.
- Continuing healthcare.
The broader function of consortia is defined as commissioning health care 'to the extent the consortium considers necessary to meet the reasonable requirements of patients registered with the GP practices who are members of the consortium.' A consortium will also have to meet the needs of unregistered patients within its geographic area, and any patients requiring emergency care.