GP votes may delay PCT start-up

4 Nov 99
Only a small number of primary care trusts (PCTs) may be formed next year, following the British Medical Association's insistence that the new bodies should receive support from at least two-thirds of local GPs.

05 November 1999

Around 60 PCTs are due to be set up next year, but the BMA is worried about how this next stage of primary care reform may affect services provided by GPs and acute and community trusts.

The doctors' body said this week that all GPs likely to be affected by a move to PCT status should be consulted. It said a ballot should only be regarded as valid if at least 80% of GPs eligible to vote did so, which could by itself scupper many hopefuls' chances of becoming PCTs.

The numbers to be balloted will be high, because of the extensive powers allocated to the new trusts. PCTs could, for example, compete with local GPs and hospitals by developing facilities and services in local hospitals and nursing homes. Or a PCT could financially destabilise an acute trust if it provided laboratory and radiology services or decided to use private healthcare providers.

The BMA issued guidance to all primary care groups this week. Dr John Chisholm, chair of the BMA's GP committee, said: 'The decision should be made on the basis of local circumstances where it can be demonstrated that trust status will show real benefits for patients beyond what existing arrangements can achieve.'


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