Money and power: two developments to follow this year

Two events that HMI Health followers should be aware of – one about money, and the other about power. 

Public health budgets

The money is in public health budgets, which are being transferred from Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) within the NHS to local councils. They’re getting more than was expected, and the money is supposed to be ‘ring-fenced’ (meaning it cannot be spent on anything else – important at a time when most local authority budgets are being slashed). The idea is that local councils are more accountable to local people – a claim that will need to be checked in time.

The Department of Health has published guidance on the transition which includes key stages, and made money available to support that. Councils start spending that money in April.

Regulating GPs

The power is in new regulation of GPs, by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which also begins in April. Many GPs are not happy about this, while others are concerned that the regulation will lack power.

Pulse reports, for example, that:

“In a move to reassure GPs over registration, the CQC has also pledged that surgeries won’t be closed over not having disabled access and that supporting evidence won’t always be necessary to prove compliance with standards.”

In some cases this means that GPs who tell the regulator they are complying with regulations will be taken at face value:

“The regulator also said it would trust ‘honest declarations’ of compliance from practices, though it warns that such a declaration is legally binding, adding: ‘Failure to declare possible non-compliance is a serious issue.'”

For an overview of the registration process, the CQC has produced this document. For more on regulation of health services across the UK, see this guide from the Health and Safety Executive.

The regulation is likely to result in data and reports which might be useful for people either investigating general practice or looking for claims to test (such as the accuracy of reports or effectiveness of the regulation)