The health select committee of MPs report on commissioning says some PCTs were doing good work but many were too weak to motivate providers and lacked skills, clinical knowledge and data to commission services effectively.
Whatever the benefits of the purchaser/provider split, it had led to an increase in transaction costs, notably management and administration.
But the MPs were appalled that civil servants could not give figures for staffing levels and costs dedicated to commissioning and billing by PCTs and providers.
The news comes as the Department of Health published three guidance documents on the future of commissioning services.
Launching the guidance, health secretary Andy Burnham said where existing NHS services were delivering a good standard of care, there was no need to look to the market. But there would be no compromise over poor quality. Lesley Mercer, CSP director of employment relations and union services, said the Society had had input into the documents in line with CSP policy that mainstream NHS services were best delivered by NHS staff.
While some had seen the guidance as watering down the government’s stance that the NHS was the preferred provider, neither the documents nor the minister’s statement backed this view, Lesley Mercer added. Go to the Society’s website www.csp.org.uk/stewardsbrief for a CSP stewards’ briefing on the guidance.