Primary care groups are struggling with lean resources

3 Feb 00
Lack of management resources could threaten the success of primary care groups, the commissioning bodies warned this week.

04 February 2000

In a briefing document, the Audit Commission said that most PCGs had a small administrative staff, many of whom reported they were struggling to cope with 'unsustainable' workloads. Though the number of managers, staff and advisers varied between one and 30, the average PCG employed the equivalent of just over four full-time workers.

GPs have long complained that PCG management spending, initially set at £3 per head of population, was too low. The British Medical Association has called for administrative budgets to be more than twice this level in the early years of the initiative.

The Audit Commission found that spending varied between £1.54 and £5.57 per resident but added that most PCGs would continue to be 'lean organisations', which relied on stakeholders such as local people freely to give up their spare time.

The commission said PCGs could overcome this problem by devolving projects down to individual GP practices or stakeholders or to form partnerships with other PCGs and local health care bodies. One in three was considering a merger to increase administrative resources and commissioning clout.

Commission controller Andrew Foster said a number of PCGs had scored early successes but others were having difficulty getting established.

'They must do more now to ensure that they are responsive to local health needs,' he added.

By Seamus Ward


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