The NHS Alliance has stressed to PharmaTimes UK News that it does not have cold feet over GP commissioning as reported in the media last week, and remains its most avid supporter.

“We have championed over many years the right of frontline GPs (and their patients) to shape local services and health initiatives and to play a hand in ensuring that scarce resources are used cost effectively,” as spokesperson for the group told PT.

NHS Alliance Chair Michael Dixon told Pulse “there is a fear among many GPs that to accommodate front-runners they will have to take on a level of accountability they don’t want. They feel it’s a bridge too far and they are not ready to do it” and that it is “over-ambitious to expect groups of GPs to take over commissioning within two years”.

But the spokesperson stressed that the comments were “simply on the detail of how to go about this”, and not an indication that the NHS Alliance's support for the principle of GP commissioning is waning.

“A few GPs will want to take on hard budgets now and accept personal profit or loss depending on outcome. Quite a few may want to work with budgets as a social enterprise/co-operative type organisation because they think this will be best for maintaining NHS values and relationships with local patients,” she told PT, and added that “many have yet to develop effective GP consortia and they will need PCT support ‘pro tem’.

According to the NHS Alliance, GP commissioning “is the solution to a health service facing one of its toughest financial challenges yet”, and, as Dixon noted, presents “a unique opportunity for frontline GPs and the managers and other clinicians who work with them to make a real difference to the health of their patients, the services they receive and make the best out of limited resources”.

Under the government’s plans, all 153 primary care trusts are to be abolished by 2013, and Michael Sobanja, the organisation’s chief executive, also stressed the need “to remember that PCTs are not failures” and to ensure “that people are looked after and talent is retained”.