GP consortia should not just purchase management support from recreated primary care trusts, Department of Health managing director of commissioning and development Barbara Hakin has warned.

Several PCT chiefs are already considering turning their organisations into commissioning support enterprises and the British Medical Association’s GP committee chair Laurence Buckman has told GPs to turn to NHS managers for their commissioning support and advice, rather than to the private sector.

However, speaking at the PCT Networkcommunity services conference in London today, Dame Barbara said she was concerned GPs were expecting the NHS to “marshal commissioning support in a way that faintly looks like PCTs currently”.

If this happened, she said commissioning would not be turned into “the professional and highly attuned system that it needs to be” to tackle rising acute demand.

Dame Barbara told delegates she had a responsibility to ensure GPs had choice, from both “really great NHS staff” but also the independent and private sector.

She said: “There are some big companies waiting in the wings hoping to get it all. They need huge critical mass to make that work but there are those of them who are optimistic they will get 70 or 80 consortia.”

Speaking to HSJ later, Dame Barbara said: “I don’t know what the right model is. But it doesn’t feel like the right model in this environment is something similar to what we have. My biggest concern is that people won’t really think outside the box.”

British Medical Association deputy chair Richard Vautrey told the Commons health committee last week he was concerned PCTs were already losing some of their best managers, describing them as “the very people who we need in the future to make these changes work”.

Dame Barbara also said she hoped the creation of consortia would lead to “a lot more sharing of resource rather than most things being done 152 times”.

She said: “If we hadn’t had the change [to consortia] we would have seen PCTs starting to share across boundaries, but my experience was that there was a reticence all the time from PCTs to let go of doing everything in house.”