Department proposes scope of GP commissioning consortia functions

'The functions of GP commissioning consortia: a working document' published on 10 March describes the proposed statutory functions that will apply to GP commissioning consortia from April 2013 onwards. These are subject to the approval of the Health and Social Care Bill and consortia being established as statutory bodies.

It is important to note that these are not the functions that emerging consortia may currently or that established consortia (from April 2012) may carry out on behalf of existing PCTs.

The document is a helpful summary for GPs and emerging consortia to consult and sets out:

  • the proposed key statutory duties of consortia (the 'must dos')
  • the proposed key statutory powers (the 'may dos' ie things consortia have the freedom to do in order to fulfil their duties); and
  • illustrative examples of activities consortia may wish to engage in to fulfill their duties - the Department promises that these will evolve over time to reflect the ideas and learning drawn from Pathfinder consortia.

Interestingly the 'must dos' list includes NHS Continuing Healthcare - notable by the absence of any mention of it in the main text of the Bill itself. This clarifies the position for many PCTs but is just one of the PCT functions that can be high risk in terms of costs and reputational damage if you get it wrong where GP consortia will have a steep learning curve to contend with.

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