Published: 13/05/2004, Volume II4, No. 5905 Page 7

Financial pressures are the biggest concern for primary care trusts - but just 34 per cent of them have a full-time finance director, a poll has revealed.

The survey of chief executives and senior managers from 50 PCTs found that money worries were the biggest area of concern for PCT managers, particularly those working in the south of England. Fifty per cent of those polled said funding pressures were their top worry, a figure which rose to 63 per cent among the southern PCTs quizzed.

But the survey, commissioned by recruitment and HR consultants Hudson and revealed exclusively by HSJ, found that the role of finance director was a shared resource at 40 per cent of the PCTs questioned.

Most commonly, finance directors also worked as directors of finance and performance, and 10 per cent of PCTs employed finance directors who worked only part-time for their organisations.

The second biggest concern for PCT managers was target-hitting (32 per cent), followed by implementing Agenda for Change (22 per cent) and then commissioning and contracting (20 per cent).

Recent reports from both the Commission for Health Improvement and the Audit Commission have been critical of PCTs' management capacity to implement significant change.

When asked what areas of professional expertise PCT senior managers would most like to have, a greater capacity to meet changes was jointly most popular.

Other areas topping wish lists were high-quality IT skills, financial expertise and experience of the NHS. Other 'desires' were experience of commissioning, skilled leadership, project management skills and 'more managers'.

l HSJ editor Alastair McLellan will chair a breakfast seminar to discuss the survey's results on 18 May at the Goring Hotel, London. To book, email gracereid@luther. co. uk