Headlines: August 10th, 1998

Ninety five percent of the new primary care groups (PCGs) needed to oversee
future local healthcare have now been set up.

There had been fears by senior managers in the NHS that they would not be able to attract the required number of interested health professionals by an end of July deadline. The remaining five per cent of groups yet to be set up are
expected to be agreed by the end of August.

The groups have been formed following local discussions across the country
between health authorities, GPs, nurses, and local authorities. They cover
populations ranging from 50,000 to 220,000 people.

They will operate in shadow form until April 1999, when GP fundholding is
brought to an end, and will be run by a board consisting of GPs, nurses, a
social services officer, a health authority representative, and a local member
of the public.

When fully operational PCGs will be able to take financial responsibility for
planning and funding health services for the communities they serve. New
guidance, issued next week, will require shadow PCGs to lay plans for their
future work in – improving the health of the local population, improving local
primary and community services, and commissioning hospital services for local patients. It will also set out the financial and accountability arrangements.