More than half of GPs and commissioning managers do not think they will meet the government’s timetable for developing GP commissioning, survey findings shared with HSJ show.

The white paper states a comprehensive system of shadow GP consortia should be put in place during 2011-12 with GP consortia fully operational from April 2013.

This is about getting clinically intelligent managers working with managerially intelligent clinicians

However, 55 per cent of respondents to a survey by the NHS Alliance said the timetable was not “realistic and achievable”, compared to only 35 per cent who said it was achievable.

The Alliance surveyed more than 200 of its members and their networks on the government’s plans for GP commissioning. Forty per cent of respondents were clinicians, 37 per cent primary care trust managers and 23 per cent practice managers.

Initial results from the survey also show 88 per cent of respondents were in favour of consortia being allowed to commission services from their constituent practices.

Additionally, 73 per cent said some element of GP practice income should be linked to the overall outcomes achieved by their consortium, and 78 per cent believe consortia should be responsible for improving the quality of care provided by their constituent practices.

Speaking last week at a Healthcare Financial Management Association conference, Alliance chair Mike Dixon said leadership over the transition period was the biggest issue currently facing the development of GP commissioning.

He said PCTs and fledgling GP consortia had to start discussions now to develop partnerships and get plans in place for the transition period in order to prevent the loss of “some of the best talents”. He warned staff were already “leaching out” of PCTs as people sought greater job security.

Dr Dixon said it was also vital to start developing more leaders from the GP community. He said: “We’ve probably got about 50 or 60 at the moment. We need to create another few hundred. These 1,000 or so GP leaders with 1,000 or so managerial leaders will be the few that will really decide the future of the NHS.”

Julie Wood, national director of the Alliance’s newly created clinical commissioning federation, said: “This is about getting clinically intelligent managers working with managerially intelligent clinicians.”

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