The country’s first commissioning consortia developed by GPs have been launched today in Cambridgeshire.

The two consortia have been handed control of around a quarter of NHS Cambridgeshire’s £870m budget and will decide commissioning in their areas for all services, except those covered by specialised commissioning arrangements.

The primary care trst, as the statutory body responsible for providing services, will still have to rubber stamp plans until such time as the government changes legislation in line with its white paper proposals.

The PCT will provide support to the commissioning consortia while continuing to commission services for the rest of its population.

One of the consortia, known as Hunts Health, comprises 10 practices and is led by Dr Simon Brown. The second, called the Borderline Commissioning Consortia, currently includes four practices and is chaired by Dr Richard Withers.

NHS Cambridgeshire started working towards the creation of GP commissioning consortia last year, as part of regional plans to improve efficiency and reduce spending – in particular to reduce unscheduled hospital admissions.

The PCT will review the performance of the pilot consortia after 12 months and expects four more to form over a series of phased roll outs, though it has not made membership of a consortium mandatory.

NHS Cambridgeshire chief executive Dr Paul Zollinger-Read said: “Our aim is to improve patient experience, services and outcomes at the same time as using resources more efficiently.

“We hope that more GP consortia in Cambridgeshire will be in a position to ‘go live’ in the near future.”

NHS Cumbria has a similarly advanced programme involving GP led commissioning but their six consortia have so far been tied to boundaries set by the PCT.