STRUCTURE: Primary care trusts in the North East are starting to delegate authority to commissioning consortia.

Under guidance from NHS North East, the three PCTs in the north of Tyne cluster have established consortia as sub-committees of their board.

They have passed on responsibility for most major contracts, excluding specialised services, prison healthcare, primary care contracts and PCT administration.

In NHS Newcastle, £344m spending is being delegated to two emerging consortia – with Newcastle Bridges taking on £179m and Tyne Health £165m.

NHS North Tyneside has delegated responsibility for £298m to two emerging consortia – CareFirst CIC taking £188m and Engage Health £110m. Northumberland Care Trust has delegated £435m to its single emerging consortium, Northumberland Commissioning Group.

In the south Tyneside cluster, NHS Gateshead is establishing its single commissioning consortium, GatNet, as a committee of the board. The PCT’s draft operating plan says it has devolved responsibility for prescribing, areas of urgent care and reducing variation in medical practice.

Consortium commissioning in NHS South Tyneside and Sunderland appears less advanced. In south Tyneside two consortia – Alliance Consortium and C7 – are merging to form a single consortium board, while three practice based commissioning groups under Sunderland Teaching PCT are also merging to form a single board.