Most commissioning managers and GPs responding to an HSJ survey believe the proposed handover to consortia will happen well ahead of schedule.

Some 678 primary care trust and strategic health authority staff and 112 GPs responded to the survey, carried out recently with consultants Ernst & Young.

Asked when they expected consortia in their area to take on material responsibility for commissioning, 79.4 per cent of respondents said within a year, significantly ahead of the government’s planned abolition of PCTs by April 2013.

Despite the Department of Health saying some consortia may not be authorised to take on commissioning by April 2013, the results suggest commissioners and GPs still believe the changes will happen quickly.

Among PCT and SHA staff, 80.8 per cent said the transfer would happen within a year. Just 15.8 per cent said between a year and two years, and 3.4 per cent said it would never happen.

Meanwhile 70.5 per cent of GPs said consortia would take on responsibility for commissioning within a year. Twenty-five per cent said it would happen between a year and two years, and 4.5 per cent said never.

The findings also suggest PCT and SHA staff and GPs agree on many aspects of the consortium development and transfer process. However, some PCT and SHA staff felt GPs lacked understanding of commissioning, while some GPs believed current commissioners could hand over control too slowly.