Managers have warned that funding to smooth the development of primary care trusts must be pledged in the next batch of guidance on the reforms, due out later this month.

Health minister John Denham is preparing two documents which spell out the future roles of PCTs and health authorities, HSJ has learned.

Sources who have seen draft versions of the PCT document say there will be 'reasonable financial help' for primary care groups which go to trust status next year.

It will also detail the balance of power between PCT boards and the clinically led executive, which ministers have called the 'engine room' of the new organisations.

Annie Brough, chief executive of south London's Optimum Health Services Community trust and a member of the Urban Trust Network, said there must be 'sufficient funds' to back up local planning for first and subsequent wave PCTs.

'Maybe the first wave will get transitional funding but my own NHS region is not talking about it yet, ' she said.

Funding was desperately needed if the government was 'looking at the full range of community services being transferred'.

HA guidance will tell HAs to review their organisational development plans as many of their existing functions are transferred to PCGs and PCTs.

Clive Parr, chief executive of the National Association of Primary Care, said: 'HAs face a major task in getting PCGs and PCTs through the reforms.

'HAs' own circumstances are changing as they hand over their responsibilities, but they still have an important role in facilitating the government's agenda.'

The guidance will say that HAs must build stronger links with local education consortia, as part of their new strategic role.

They will be instructed to 'grasp issues of poor performance' and take a lead on ensuring the quality of health services.

The guidance will not provide a blueprint for HA size or mergers following the emergence of PCTs. It will say configuration should be driven by local issues such as the size of PCTs, service needs and clinical imperatives.

The Urban Trust Network, a group of the 13 largest community trusts in England, also warned this week that smaller PCTs, covering populations of fewer than 200,000, risked 'destabilising' community services.

Ms Brough said PCTs had to be bigger to provide specialist care such as services for people with learning difficulties.

But Mr Parr said: 'PCTs are not community trusts, nor PCGs.

'They are a different type of organisation more concerned with general practice.'

Big 13 warn of destabilising effect The Urban Trust Network is a group of 13 of England's largest city community trusts.

Member Annie Brough, chief executive of south London's Optimum Health Services trust, says it has 'thrown its weight behind creating primary care trusts'.

But the group is concerned that the process of change could destabilise services to 'some of the most vulnerable' patients if it is not 'properly planned and managed'. It has criticised ministers and civil servants for referring only to community trusts' role in providing health visiting and district nursing and for showing 'little understanding of the other essential services we provide'.

Urban PCTs must serve populations of at least 200,000 in order to protect specialist community services such as those for people with learning difficulties, the group has warned.