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PCT to privatise commissioning

15th February 2007

A row has erupted over a debt-ridden PCT looking to outsource its entire commissioning role to the private sector.

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The move would reduce staffing numbers at the troubled Hillingdon PCT by 90%, leading to more than 250 job losses.

The PCT has historic debts of more than £50m and predicts an additional £11m at year-end.

Now its new ‘trouble shooting’ chief executive Anthony Sumara has come up with the plans to reduce the PCT to its core functions such as governance and patient and public involvement.

Under his proposals everything else would be put out to tender, with a new provider sought for clinical services.

The PCT is now putting together more detailed proposals which will be considered by the board in April. This will define what functions the PCT should hold.

In a statement the PCT admitted they lacked the skills needed for commissioning services, in particular negotiating contracts and performance management.

Under government guidelines, PCTs can choose which areas they outsource. A list of recommended commissioning experts is expected to follow in the next month.

Hillingdon is considering three of the four main categories identified in the government framework: contracting and procurement; assessment and planning; and performance management.

Even if agreed by the PCT board, it may fail to attract tenders from the private sector because of its debts. It is also at risk of attracting huge public opposition.

In response health union Amicus has demanded limits be imposed on the outsourcing of NHS work to hold on to core public health services and publicly owned assets.

They also argue private companies don't offer value for money.


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