GPs want 'time to think' as DoH hands out immediate veto on spending plans

GPs 'need more time' to think about how to develop consortia, says the former GP charged with transferring commissioning out of PCTs.

Dame Barbara: GPs want time (Photograph: NHS Employers)
Dame Barbara: GPs want time (Photograph: NHS Employers)

The remarks came as a letter from NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson last week ordered PCTs to get commissioning decisions signed off by local GP representatives with immediate effect, even if consortia are not yet formed.

Speaking exclusively to GP, DoH director of commissioning development Dame Barbara Hakin said the GPs she had spoken to wanted more time to organise themselves into commissioning groups.

'The big message GPs have given me is that they want time to do some thinking, to let leaders emerge. They're saying "please give us some time for this",' she said.

There remains confusion among GPs about how fast to develop consortia. The DoH hopes to devolve full commissioning responsibility by 2013.

The NHS Alliance has urged GPs to form consortia as 'quickly as possible'. But the GPC has told GPs not to 'rush into anything'.

Ex-GP Dame Barbara revealed she will remain lead GMS contract negotiator at NHS Employers. 'We felt creating this role and working with the GMS contract there would be a lot of synergy.' She said it was too early to talk about how commissioning incentives would work, but was confident a negotiated settlement will be reached.

The NHS Commissioning Board would make sure consortia were 'fit and able to make decisions themselves', not sign off decisions, she said.

She pledged to ensure 'appropriate resources transfer to GPs over time' as they develop consortia.

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