Councils may get a bigger role in health commissioning, under government plans to radically scale back the role of primary care trusts.
The coalition’s programme for government included plans to transfer many of PCTs’ commissioning responsibilities to groups of GPs, which would make family doctors councils’ key partners in integrating health and social care.
In an interview with doctors.net.uk, reported today by Health Service Journal, health secretary Andrew Lansley said that councils could help support GPs in commissioning health services, saying local authorities’ role in commissioning social care “might make that quite a viable option”. It would be up to GPs to decide whether to seek support from councils, or from PCTs or other organisations.
The plan to transfer commissioning powers from PCTs to GPs has been criticised by the chair of the Local Government Association’s improvement board, David Parsons, who said that it would weaken democratic accountability in the NHS.
However, giving councils responsibility for commissioning support for GPs could address this concern.
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