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Health Insight April 2002: The birth of the primary care trust

  The 1st April was the start of what has been described as ‘one of the most momentous changes in NHS history’. However, possibly because of the death of the Queen Mother it had little media attention. The NHS reorganisation saw the disappearance of almost 100 health authorities (HAs) and primary care groups last month and the emergence of 138 primary care trusts (PCTs) as the cornerstones of the health service. The PCTs will take on many of the responsibilities of HAs – including commissioning, public health and primary care – and hold three-quarters of the NHS budget for England. Many will also be running community services.

Health Secretary Alan Milburn has urged hospital trusts to ‘open their books properly’ so the new wave of primary care trusts can have a stronger and better informed commissioning role. The National Association for Primary Care welcomed Mr Milburn’s words as ‘a step in the right direction’.A spokesperson said, ‘A lot of money is ploughed into secondary care and it has not always been clear how well that money is being spent.’ The PCTs have a breathing space now until October before they take on all of their legal duties – it is thought that many will need it.

Source: Health Service Journal 4th April

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