Following my post last week on the possible resurrection of PCTs to act as a safety net for those parts of the country that will not have organised GP Commissioning Consortia in April 2013 there has been an interesting juxtaposition in London.
The only problem with this possible policy development is the fact that across England PCTs will have already been done away with – in most places by the end of March, and everywhere by June 2011. This means that if they are to act as a safety net they will have to be resurrected. Most Members of the House of Parliament would be surprised to learn that PCTs had already been abolished before either House had collectively voted for that outcome.
Monday’s Evening Standard, reflecting on the House of Commons statement that afternoon, noted the fact that only the Friday before – April 1st – some 1400 PCT staff had been made redundant.
Nigel Edwards from the Confed noted that if Government policy was to wander in any number of new directions that needed PCTs, “We may need to rehire some of these people – and that is astonishing!”
“Astonishing” is a good way of putting it. How is it that NHS London has managed to abolish its PCTs – at the cost of 1400 redundancies – before Parliament has decided to abolish them?
NHS London decided last autumn to bring forward all the management savings from the PCTs into the financial year 2009/10. This meant that there was insufficient staff for all the PCTs to continue as managed organisations. (In any case NHS London has wanted to merge PCTs for some years, so this policy of cutting managers early and heavily brought about their desired policy objective).
This has meant that in London they successfully abolished PCTs as management organisations some weeks before the clause effecting the change has even gone through one House of Parliament.
All of this looked OK provided the NHS reform juggernaut was to carry on and abolish them in any case.
But, as of yesterday, jumping the gun by getting rid of 1400 staff that may just still be needed in the future, begins to look as if it may have been a bit premature.
Add to that the bad luck of the Government’s hesitation being announced 3 days after the premature abolition, and things begin to look a bit messy.
It’s not quite clear where the Government rethink will lead, but there is a real possibility that one of the outcomes of the listening exercise could lead to something like PCTs being needed. In which case these staff may well have to be re-hired.
It’s just as well that these set of NHS reforms are all about saving money in bureaucracy isn’t it?