GPs who want to be in the vanguard of the government’s health reforms are being told they must demonstrate evidence that they have local authority buy-in for their plans.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley last week called on groups of GPs who have already grouped themselves into consortia to take on commissioning responsibilities to make themselves known and apply to become “pathfinder” consortia.
Mr Lansley said £1m in funding was being made available to kickstart a programme to trial different models of the doctors’ consortia that will take over commissioning from PCTs from 2013.
Now chief executives of Strategic Health Authorities are being told that while there should be no limit on the number of groups of practices who feel ready to become pathfinders, they must fulfil certain critera.
Dame Barbara Hakin, national managing director for commissioning development at the Department of Health, said the pathfinder programme should be “as permissive as possible” and “identify a broad range of prospective consortia” to explore ways to get the maximum benefits from future commissioning plans.
But she added that in considering whether to approve applications for pathfinder status from particular consortia, SHAs should look insist on a list of prerequisites including “evidence of local authority engagement”.
“SHAs should be in a position to identify the first group of pathfinders by the beginning of December and be ready to receive applications by the end of October,” she said.