7 September 2010 | Angeline Albert
Doctors are strongly opposed to Primary Care Trust (PCT) managers automatically getting roles – including purchasing posts – in new GP commissioning groups.
That was the finding of a poll of 257 GPs and PCT, Strategic Health Authority (SHA) and practice-based commissioning managers conducted by NHS Networks.
They voted against the prospect of an automatic right to jobs for existing NHS managers in the new purchasing regime by 53 per cent to 41 per cent. The remaining 6 per cent were undecided.
A white paper by the Department of Health, Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS, published in July, gives details of how the purchasing of healthcare will devolve from Whitehall to GPs, who will be responsible for an annual budget of £80 billion.
Consortia of GP practices will commission most NHS services for their patients and manage the combined commissioning budgets of their member GP practices. PCTs currently manage GP services and commission care from hospitals, but these trusts will be abolished by 2014. PCTs are managed by SHAs.
In the NHS Networks survey 79 per cent of GPs and consortia managers were overwhelmingly against inheriting PCT managers. While some GPs questioned the quality of PCT managers, most would consider employing them if they can appoint according to merit.
More than a third of PCT and SHA staff (37 per cent) also rejected the idea of an automatic right to a job in GP consortia. Some PCT managers, however, believe TUPE or similar arrangements will give them a legal right to move to similar posts.
The chief executive of the East of England Strategic Health Authority, Neil McKay, wrote to SHAs (on behalf of the Department of Health) about progress with the new regime. He said it is not yet known whether TUPE would apply to any transfer of functions.
In a separate survey, also by NHS Networks, more than 90 per cent of GPs agreed with the proposition that “good” managers would get jobs in the emerging commissioning consortia. Only 60 per cent of PCT managers showed the same degree of optimism.
“We will need the skills and experience of many of these managers,” one GP said.
Another added: “As clinicians we have predominantly been involved in demand management and service redesign. All the other components are new to the majority of us. We need the skills in PCTs if we are to take responsibility for the whole commissioning cycle. We also need the organisational memory, particularly around procurement and contracts. It is essential these skills are transferred into consortia.”