14 September 2010 | Angeline Albert

GPs should embrace Primary Care Trusts' (PCT) buying expertise in order to achieve savings in the government’s new consortia groups, according to NHS Trust purchasing boss Malcolm Preston.

The head of procurement at Durham and Darlington NHS Trust, was speaking to SM following a poll that found GPs are strongly opposed to PCT managers automatically getting roles – including purchasing posts – in new GP commissioning groups.
The survey, which was conducted by NHS Networks and quizzed 257 GPs, PCTs, Strategic Health Authorities and commissioning managers, found 79 per cent of GPs and consortia managers were against the idea.
Preston said: “There are opportunities for us to provide a service to GPs. For the supply of consumables and equipment why not use the knowledge and contacts we have to get a better deal? Why doesn’t government mandate non-critical items?”
Preston believes the public sector should use a mandatory list of procurement items and suppliers for items such as furniture, IT, stationery and uniforms. “This would save the government millions.”
As reported in SM (News, 2 September) plans are under way for Whitehall departments to be made to use a collaborative procurement model. As the government struggles to cut spending, the Cabinet Office’s Efficiency and Reform Group will lead a central effort to reduce costs.
PCTs currently manage GP services and commission care from hospitals, but they will be abolished by 2014. But a white paper details how consortia of GP practices will commission NHS services for their patients and manage the combined commissioning budgets of their member GP practices.

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