Just over a quarter of primary care trusts have put in place arrangements to help GP practices commission health services, six months ahead of the deadline.
In a parliamentary answer last week, health secretary Patricia Hewitt said 27 per cent of trusts had arrangements in place to support practice-based commissioning, under which GPs are given virtual budgets to buy services for their patients.
Hewitt said 41 per cent of GPs were using practice-based commissioning.
The Department of Health wants the policy to be universal by December 2006.
At a meeting on the white paper on health and social care in parliament last week, the British Medical Association raised concerns that trust deficits were impeding the development of practice-based commissioning.
The session was organised by the all-party parliamentary groups on social care and primary care and public health, which held a further evidence session this week and will host a third on 3 July.