Power to the People
I wrote a few weeks back about how the NHS was changing. We've got a slightly better picture of what is planned. Currently, primary care trusts are in charge of commissioning services for each of the regions they cover. The central government has determined that this set-up is far too management-heavy and inefficient. Their new plan is to eliminate the PCTs entirely and hand over control to the general practitioners. They feel that GPs have a better handle on the needs of local populations. There will be consortiums of up to 500 GPs who purchase and commission services for their patients.
Initially this sounded like a good idea, but then I reflected on how UK general practitioners differ from US primary care providers. The biggest difference is that US doctors have much greater business savvy. UK doctors are skilled at being doctors, not businessmen. They will have control over billions of dollars. They are also plenty busy treating patients without managing the finances behind what the region needs for health.
So what will they most likely do? Commission financial management from the very people just thrown out, the primary care trust staff. All in all, it appears the dramatic change will be nothing more than an exercise in pushing paper.