The DoH says its 'Right to Request' scheme aims to put PCT staff 'in the driving seat' of projects to transform patient care. The scheme is mainly aimed at clinical staff, but will accept applications from managers who want to set up social enterprises to support GP consortia, a DoH spokeswoman said.
PCT leaders have said that a number of managers are looking to set up commissioning consultancy businesses.
Talking at a King's Fund event last month, NHS Hillingdon chief executive Yi Mien Koh said: 'Some are thinking about becoming social enterprises. But they are working out how they can create the collateral to let this happen.'
David Stout, NHS Confederation PCT Network director, said while many PCT managers were discussing this, he was not aware of any firm plans. He urged managers to consult GPs about the support they would want in commissioning.
NHS Alliance chairman Dr Michael Dixon said social enterprise plans could limit NHS redundancies and instability.
'It would allow PCT managers to do what should have been done all along - supporting clinicians to improve local health and services,' he added.