Three of the 'big four' accountancy firms have been selected to improve primary care trust boards' skills.

KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young are all leading consortiums that have made successful bids to be on the Department of Health's new PCT board development framework.

Seven consortiums have been chosen from 225 applicants - other winners include consortiums led by health consultancies Newchurch and ATM, and management consultants AT Kearney and PA Consulting Services.

Each has been tasked with offering a "tailored package of support to PCT boards that will help improve their knowledge, skills and behaviours in the light of world class commissioning".

World class commissioning

DH director of commissioning Gary Belfield said a strong and effective board was "absolutely critical" if PCTs were to become world class commissioners.

He said: "The seven suppliers on the board development framework provide an excellent range of programmes to develop good board governance.

"These programmes will provide targeted support for PCT boards as they adapt to the demands of world class commissioning and the NHS next stage review."

Diagnostic tools

Earlier this year, the DH committed to leading work to develop PCT boards. In addition to the framework of pre-qualified providers, it also promised to review PCT board development diagnostic tools and produce a clear statement on the role and constitution of a PCT board.

NHS Alliance practice based commissioning federation lead David Jenner said accountancy skills were being promoted to "bring some rigour to PCTs as commercial organisations". He said: "Most people in PCTs have not had business skills and they're now dealing with market exit and market entry."

THE CONSORTIUMS IN FULL

  • AT Kearney

  • ATM Consulting with Goodwin Hannah

  • Ernst & Young with Bath Consultancy Group, the King's Fund and UnitedHealth UK

  • KPMG with Dr Foster Intelligence, Manchester Business School, Morgan Cole, and Role Plays for Training

  • Newchurch with Bupa Commissioning and OD Partnerships

  • PA Consulting Services with SHM Productions, 2020 Delivery, Praesta Partners and Inspired Leaders Network

  • PricewaterhouseCoopers with the Governance Institute