16 September 2010 | Angeline Albert
The British Medical Association (BMA) has issued guidance for GPs to prepare them for the proposed new model for healthcare procurement.
The doctors’ professional body says it has stepped in to fill the existing “vacuum of information” on how GPs can establish commissioning consortia, the future purchasing method recommended by the UK government.
The advice, GP consortia commissioning: initial observation, details how doctors can prepare for plans for them to create consortia and commission services for their local population as described in the government’s white paper proposals, which are currently out for consultation. The BMA said it had received requests from doctors for help, given mounting pressure on them to begin establishing consortia.
The guidance, which covers areas such as determining commissioning population size, responsibilities and budget setting, states it would not be “appropriate for a Primary Care Trust or Strategic Health Authority to select a consortium leadership team”. It adds all GP practices should have a say in the choice of leadership and management of the consortia.
Consortia with local populations below 500,000 may not be able to take advantage of economies of scale to ensure efficient commissioning and should consider working with neighbouring consortia or subcontracting out specific tasks, via a shared agency, working on behalf of a federation of consortia. There should be no “turf wars between consortia and NHS Trusts”. The advice adds clinicians from both sectors will have to work together to develop and commission integrated care services.
The association admits the information may be “superseded in the near future” by the result of the consultation, which is at an early stage.