Headlines: June 14th, 2001

The NHS Confederation is to launch its own study into whether there is the capacity for Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) to manage the size of the job they are increasingly being given to do.The job of PCTs has evolved at a tremendous pace since its origins as a means of giving GPs, nurses and other local stakeholders a lead role in the planning, provision and development of local health services.

Such organisations are now able to commission and provide services, run community hospitals and community health services, employ the necessary staff, and own property.

Indeed their job has grown so much that the Government expects that within three years, two-thirds of the current 95 health authorities will have merged, most of their responsibilities for identifying and commissioning health services having been taken over by PCTs.

But the NHS Confederation, which represents the voice of managers at both health authority and PCT level, is concerned whether current management resources match the size of the agenda.

Nigel Edwards, policy director said “The expectations we have of PCTs have grown enormously and are set to grow further. The resources to do the job have failed to keep pace and now is a good time to examine the investments in PCT management in terms of numbers of staff, skills and infrastructure. This work will provide us with strong evidence to argue the case for real investment in PCT management capacity”

Key issues include discrepancies between expectations and resources in terms of priorities and the pace of change; and the balance between management posts and clinicians as managers.

Link: www.nhsconfed.co.uk