Plans by the government to cut NHS administrative costs by a third will lead to the creation of fewer and larger PCTs, the NHS Confederation (NHSC) has predicted.
While not promised by the coalition in their programme for government, the NHSC said a reduction in the number of PCTs was the most straightforward way of cutting overheads.
Jo Webber, deputy director of policy at the NHSC, claimed this pointed to councils developing a closer relationship with GPs, saying there was a "strong likelihood" of more social workers and other health professionals being based in doctors' practices.
Steve Field, president of the Royal College of GPs, welcomed such a move, saying he thought it was sensible to give doctors more commissioning power as they were at the "front line" of primary care.
"The last time we carried out this exercise we reduced three PCTs to one PCT, so now we have three localities who operate independently and I have to question what savings were made. The exercise is pointless unless there is someone who can stop NHS managers empire-building" – Allan Stewart, north-west England