Continuing delays to the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill could mean clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will not be ready to take over from PCTs in April 2013, a PCT leader has warned.
David Stout, the director of the NHS Confederation PCT Network, told MiP that the quality of the "important" secondary legislation – which would provide detail of the authorisation process for CCGS – could suffer as a result of the length of time the bill has taken to get through parliament.
At a Westminster Health Forum event on the bill yesterday (8 November), Stout said: "These delays are damaging now and are proving to be a distraction for GPs involved in clinical commissioning," he said.
"The longer this goes on, the less time there will be to develop the important secondary legislation – involving the authorisation process, running costs, accountability, etc. In a time squeeze there is a risk that this will be done less well."
Stout said it is a "real possibility" the government will be forced to push the date back for which CCGs will take over from PCTs of April 2013 to allow sufficient time for the development of the secondary legislation.
He does not believe, however, that the delays risk putting GPs off getting involved in clinical commissioning. He said there is a "strong enough persuasive argument" for CCGs and it has "enough momentum" to continue "regardless of the bill".
However, Stout told MiP pathfinders may not become CCGs – something that could have been prevented if the confusion caused by the delays hadn't occurred, he argued.