GP consortia could struggle to commission specialist services such as surgery if they fail to consult with colleagues in the acute sector, the Royal College of Surgeons of England has warned.

In its official response to the white paper, the college said: “If these health service reforms are to work there will need to partnerships between primary and hospital clinicians if specialist services. The medical royal colleges can play a significant role here.”

Overall the college welcomed the government’s commitment to the spirit of the NHS and commended the approach “to put patients at the centre of the NHS”.

However it said it was essential commissioning consortia had access to “timely and relevant clinical information and expertise, to ensure that decisions are based on the best available evidence”.

It said: “We have concerns that the proposed plans for commissioning by GP consortia could find difficulties in accessing the skills necessary for the commissioning of some of the more specialised areas of medical, surgical and dental practice.”

The college broadly welcomes the changes to the roles of the Care Quality Commission and Monitor. However, it said: “There is confusion over which organisations will require a licence from Monitor to deliver NHS services and this requires clarification.”

The RCS response also said the white paper offered an opportunity to look at clinical research priorities within the NHS “particularly the need to improve the translation of research and spread of innovation in surgery for the benefit of patients”.

The consultation period for the white paper comes to an end on 11 October.