12 July 2010
NHS reorganisation at best a waste of time at worst a waste of money says think tank
Responding to the announcement that the NHS White Paper is to transfer billions of pounds from Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) to GPs to directly commission services David Furness, author of the SMF's major health report, commented:
"Giving control of NHS funds to GPs is like asking your waiter to manage a restaurant. They might know what you want to eat but they won't necessarily be any good at ordering stock, designing a menu or controlling the chef. Commissioning healthcare is very difficult and needs a specialised organisation to do it. And the evidence suggests that small commissioners find it difficult to take on powerful providers and reform services. GP commissioning risks handing real control of the NHS to vested interests on the provider side as GPs simply won't have the muscle to drive through change.
"And GP consortia will need organisational support to work effectively. Who else could do this but current PCT staff? This new NHS reorganisations will mean wasted years reinventing the system we have now. And with the prospect of a funding squeeze that will certainly have an impact on patients, this is no time to introduce an ideologically driven policy that forces GPs to become NHS managers. Instead the government should be focussing on what it can do to strengthen existing commissioners - PCTs.
"At best this will be a waste of time, at worst a waste of money."