Private companies are to help practice based commissioning consortiums put together business cases that primary care trusts can understand.
Health minister Ben Bradshaw announced that the Department of Health would tender for bids to provide a support service to enable consortiums and PCTs to work better together on commissioning. This will establish a framework contract providing access to "quality assured development support" from a range of providers with the necessary expertise and experience, the DH said.
The type of support available will include organisational and leadership development, information analysis, business cases and patient and public involvement.
The move follows concerns that managers and clinicians are not communicating well over service redesign bids, impeding the progress of practice based commissioning.
Speaking at an NHS Alliance conference, Mr Bradshaw stressed that practice based commissioning was integral to PCTs' world class commissioning work. The DH has already said PCTs that do not support GP consortiums will be held to account through world class commissioning. "Commissioning will only be at its strongest and most effective when there is a product of partnership between clinicians and local health service managers working together," Mr Bradshaw said.
NHS Alliance PBC federation lead David Jenner said: "What is needed is someone able to bridge the language gap between practice based commissioners and PCTs.
"The biggest single skills gap in practice based commissioning is writing business cases: what you often have to do is to take an idea from a clinician and convert it into 'bureau-speak' to pass muster with the PCT's in-house governance." The DH will tender for bids by the end of this month and the support will be available from early autumn.
Mr Bradshaw said many PCTs were already succeeding, highlighting Hampshire, which he said had invested "several millions of pounds" in practice based commissioning.
"We expect PCTs to change their behaviour and give practice based commissioning the proper attention it requires to succeed," he said.
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