A health authority is to disband its commissioning department to fund primary care groups.

East London and the City HA has agreed to fund the management of its three PCGs - Newham, City and Hackney and Tower Hamlets - at a rate of£5.36 per head of population.

This is substantially more than the£3 a head suggested by last year's government guidance on PCGs, which was attacked as too little by GP leaders.

Commissioning director Nick Evans said: 'Our PCGs will be taking on all hospital and community services commissioning, except for those functions defined as specialist.

'In order to do that they need the appropriate structures which the HA is financing.'

The existing commissioning department will close and the commissioning director post will disappear.

Up to 50 HA staff in the commissioning and finance departments could be redeployed, with 'between 25 and 30' moving to PCGs.

Mr Evans said the HA was 'still interviewing' staff for posts in a slimmed down primary care development department that will commission specialist care and hold GPs' contracts.