The functions of GP commissioning consortia: a working document published on 10 March, describes the proposed statutory functions that will apply to GP commissioning consortia from April 2013 onwards. These are subject to parliamentary approval of the Health and Social Care Bill and consortia being established as statutory bodies.

The document is a helpful summary for GPs and emerging consortia to consult and sets out:

  • the proposed key statutory duties of consortia (the “must dos”);
  • the proposed key statutory powers (the “may dos”, ie, things consortia have the freedom to do in order to fulfil their duties); and
  • illustrative examples of activities consortia may wish to engage in to fulfil their duties - the Department of Health promises that these will evolve over time to reflect the ideas and learning drawn from pathfinder consortia.

Interestingly, the “must dos” list includes NHS Continuing Healthcare – notable by the absence of any mention of it in the main text of the Bill itself. This clarifies the position for many PCTs but is just one of the PCT functions that can be high risk in terms of costs and reputational damage if you get it wrong, where GP consortia will have a steep learning curve to contend with.

Further information on GP commissioning can be found on our new GP commissioning portal, an online resource for everyone involved in, or affected by, GP commissioning. The site explains the legal implications of GP commissioning and draws together a range of legal, commercial and practical information relevant to GP commissioning. You can also call our GP commissioning helpline on 0844 381 4046.