Plans for 50 local offices to replace primary care trusts and strategic health authorities have been cut by almost 50% under plans revealed by the NHS Commissioning Board today.
Ian Dalton, deputy chief executive of the NHS CB, told a board meeting that the number of offices, now renamed local area teams, would be reduced from 50 to 27.
This is one fewer than the 28 SHAs that were formed in 2002, before they were slimmed down to ten by health secrtary Patricia Hewitt.
Dalton told board members the original plan was to map offices to PCT clusters. But the latest plans reflected a cut in the proposed number of clinical commissioning groups to 212.
He added: “Some PCT clusters now relate to just one clinical commissioning group.
"We wanted teams that were not too distant to an area, but at the same time not so close that they would cut across the CCG’s leadership functions.”
Dalton said the new plan is to have 27 local area teams, with three in London and 24 covering the rest of England.
He said he had changed the name because staff within one local area team could work in several different offices.
Each local area team will work with an average of eight CCGs, although exact numbers may vary depending on the sizes of the CCGs covered.
Dalton argued that the 27 teams would be different to the bodies that had gone before them, even though they so closely matched the original pattern for SHAs.
He told the board: “These are different organisations with different functions. It is not about a hierarchy and local area teams second guessing CCGs and telling them what to do.
"It is about development support and partnership and working alongside each other.”
Dalton did not reveal how many staff would work for each local area team but said general managers with expertise in commissioning and operations would be added to nursing, medical and finance leaders.
He said he would be writing to the local NHS and publishing plans online within the next two weeks, outlining details of the 27 local area teams and their geographies.
This week’s NHS Commissioning Board meeting also heard that around 7,000 staff are expected to work for commissioning support services.
Barbara Hakin, managing director of commissioning, told the board that 23 CSSs are planned, and the managing directors for each service will be appointed in June.
She said the NHS CB would host the commissioning support services but was keen to do so at arm’s length so they could move towards independence and so the hosting does not impact on the NHS CB's core business.
EHI Primary Care recently conducted an exclusive survey of GPs and commissioning leaders about their views of commissioning support and their IT and information plans. Read more in our Insight features.
The winner of the £100 of Amazon vouchers offered as a thank-you for completing the survey was Dr Mark McCartney, a GP from Cornwall.
© 2012 EHealth Media.
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