By April 2013, Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) will no longer exist. The model of health care brought in under New Labour has had its day and is being replaced with general practitioner (GP) led consortia, putting power directly with the frontline staff to control their budgets. This is the 'liberating state' in action, devolving decision-making powers to the health care professionals closest to patients.
However, for most GPs, the power of commissioning is an entirely new responsibility: one that will require new organisational forms to be effective. This pamphlet investigates the example of NHS Cumbria, where GP-led consortia have been in development since June 2009, using it as a case study of the future of the NHS.
Paul Corrigan offers a unique perspective on the reforms, having been instrumental in the creation of PCTs as senior health policy adviser to Tony Blair. He finds that NHS Cumbria has a wealth of experience for reformers to draw upon, and argues that, in contrast to the top-down approach of the PCTs, GP-led commissioning will increase efficiency and quality of service in the NHS from the ground up.