Magazine article Public Finance

Calls Grow for NHS Commissioning Reforms

Magazine article Public Finance

Calls Grow for NHS Commissioning Reforms

Article excerpt

A leading public policy academic has added to calls for sweeping reforms of the commissioning system in the English NHS.

Calum Paton, a professor at Keele University, told Public Finance that integrated local health bodies could be established to perform the functions of both the purchaser and the provider. 'It is perfectly capable of working and would have significantly less administrative cost than we've developed over the years.

'Commissioning has failed and it ought to be abolished - but you still need somebody to do the planning of need. Getting hung up on a commissioner/ provider split has outlived its usefulness.'

He also described World Class Commissioning - the Department of Health initiative intended to improve the system - as 'an embarrassment'.

Writing in the British Medical Journal last week, Paton said the existing model, with 'purchaser' primary care trusts separated from 'providers' such as hospitals, was bureaucratic, costly and based on 'dogma rather than necessity'.

Last month, the Commons health select committee described PCTs as 'weak' and 'passive' commissioners, and concluded that the system had led to increased costs. And in another study published last month, the King's Fund and Nuffield Trust think-tanks called for the commissioning system to be reformed, suggesting a greater role for doctors. …

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