Research on clinical commissioning groups in the US suggests young consortia in the UK need a lot of support and must work with other sectors if they are to survive.

The Nuffield Trust research organisation published a report today on findings from an examination of clinical commissioning groups – similar to proposed consortia – in the US over the past 20 years.

Researchers found that to survive these groups had to, ”ensure primary and specialist doctors cooperated closely and were able to invest in a range of services that offer alternatives to hospital care, particularly for older patients with chronic conditions”.

They found: “Integration of primary and secondary care was seen as vital to the delivery of efficient high quality care, and all of the [surviving] groups had consultant medical staff employed within, or contracted to, the medical group.”

Researchers also found that where groups had “initially underestimated the importance of investing in management support - including data and IT systems, experienced analysts, and other management and financial expertise”, they struggled to succeed.

Nuffield Trust senior fellow Ruth Thorlby said: “The message from the US is unequivocal – many English GP consortia will really struggle unless there is a relentless focus on securing and sustaining high-quality leadership and substantial investment in management that can work with key stakeholders and develop strategic commissioning plans that drive innovation and change.”

It supports the need for GP consortia to receive a sufficient running cost allowance. The government last month said emerging consortia could from April be given an allowance of £2 per head of population, which the British Medical Association has said is not enough.