COMMERCIAL: A commissioning consortium last week pulled health secretary Andrew Lansley into its struggle to take on commissioning powers from primary care trust NHS Surrey.

Joe McGilligan, chair of pathfinder consortium ESyDoc, told Mr Lansley that bureaucratic hurdles were barring it from taking on commissioning powers.

He spoke from the floor of the National Association of Primary Care conference in London after the health secretary attempted to reassure assembled consortium representatives they would be given the freedom to commission

“My objective is that we don’t pour treacle over you, that you are indeed taking these responsibilities, and I appreciate and thank you for that,” Mr Lansley had told delegates.

But Dr McGilligan said his pathfinder’s attempts to take on responsibility from the financially struggling NHS Surrey had been blocked by government guidance saying that private corporate entities could not take on statutory PCT functions.

ESyDoc was previously a practice based commissioning group. Dr McGilligan said it had been asked by the PCT to form a limited liability partnership, “in order to get a bank account”.

Now, he said, as a pathfinder consortium it was told that “unfortunately the only way we can get any of our plans through is to become a sub-committee of the PCT” – and to do that it would have to dissolve the LLP.

Dr McGilligan later told HSJ that ESyDoc had spent £40,000 developing the LLP, and around £500,000 on invest-to-save plans for service redesign.

He had been told dissolving the LLP would require it to cease trading for three months. Its employees would have to be either made redundant or taken on by the PCT, he added.

Mr Lansley said he would look into the case after the conference.