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PCTs block GPs from commissioning
GPs have claimed they have been blocked from commissioning new services for two years. Warnings from a GP who is close to ministers, claim that there is ‘anxiety’ surrounding the control that PCTs are exerting over the NHS reforms.
Indeed, there are a number of examples where PCTs are seen to block clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) from accessing resources that have been freed-up for commissioning.
Dr Peter Patel, chief executive of South Birmingham Independent Commissioners, said that although the group had been in charge of the full commissioning budget since last year, it had been blocked by local PCTs from commissioning new projects. He said:
‘There is a freeze on new projects and no investment strategy. The guidance was to let groups reinvest freed-up resources. But they’ve thrown the guidance out.
‘Last year we had £1.2 million [of] freed-up resources which helped balance the books of the PCTs but they wouldn’t allow us to reinvest it.’
Dr Patel claimed his involvement in commissioning over the past year has cost him £12,000. He said:
‘My GPs are working at £48 an hour to carry out CCG functions. That act of good faith in trying to make a difference will disappear if the resource is not there.’
A Birmingham and Solihull PCT Cluster spokesperson said the cluster was ‘reviewing all current investments as part of QIPP.’ The spokesperson said:
‘CCGs are encouraged to put forward proposals backed by robust business cases, evidencing return on investment and in line with QIPP principles. However, funding for such schemes will not be ring fenced as freed-up resources.’
A GP in Grimsby and chair of Conservative Health, Dr Paul Charlson, argued that ministers were worried that GPs could surrender the initiative to PCTs. He commented:
‘There is anxiety the vacuum will be filled with managers who are skilled at holding onto power. That was never the point of the bill.
‘My concern, based on feedback from colleagues, is that GPs are starting to lose the initiative, and PCT clusters are starting to rear their heads as being powerful monsters who may take control if we’re not careful, particularly with some of the weaker commissioning groups.’
Dr Charles Alessi, chair of the Kingston Consortium, said it was imperative that clinical commissioning groups were given the freedom to develop without interference from PCT clusters.
‘Unless we are really careful we will just end up swapping the name on the door. This would be an absolute disaster after all the upheaval we have been going through’, he said.