Health secretary Andrew Lansley has said most NHS commissioning decisions already involve doctors and nurses working in primary care, in defence of his reform agenda.
The government is set to publish its health and social care bill, which will move its HS restructuring proposals nearer to becoming a reality, on Wednesday.
Speaking in the first of week-long series of sessions on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, Mr Lansley outlined his proposals to hand control of 80% of the NHS budget to GP commissioning consortia.
Attempting to justify his plan to sweep away primary care trusts and give their service purchasing power to groups of GPs instead, he said PCTs currently had to “second guess” clinical decisions made in primary care in order to make commissioning decisions.
He said: “Most of the commissioning decisions take place in general practice.”
Asked about whether all GPs would be able to commission effectively, he said: “I’m not arguing that every GP is up to it. It goes wider than simply general practitioners.”
The government also announced a further 89 “pathfinder” consortia that will pilot the idea today.
However, the proposals have today received renewed criticism from unions and healthcare bodies, including the Royal of Nursing and Unison, ahead of the legislation on Wednesday.
But Mr Lansley said: “The risks of going down this path are now greater than not.”
Earlier today, prime minister David Cameron also gave a speech at the Royal Society of Arts defending his government’s wider plans for the reform of the public sector.
Nursing Times is running a campaign with the aim of ensuring that all GP consortia are required to have a nurse on their board of directors. Click here to sign our petition calling on Mr Lansley to ensure nurses have a “Seat on the Board”.