StBoP introduced the structural change to the NHS that was intended to help modernise the service.
Primary Care Groups, which had remained essentially committees of the District Health Authorities, were to become Primary Care trusts (PCTs) replacing the 95 Health Authorities, which were abolished.
Executive regional offices of the NHS would also be abolished
and 30 SHAs would be created to take the lead in strategic development of local health services (taking over some functions from the regional offices) and management of PCTs and NHS trusts. However, they would no longer be involved in planning and commissioning services to meet the needs of a local population. It was also intended that PCTs would receive and manage 75% of total NHS expenditure, with resources allocated directly to PCTs rather than to SHAs.
PCTs would be expected to work in partnership with local bodies such as local authorities. The paper brought forward the date of establishing PCTs from April 2004 (mentioned in the NHS Plan) to April 2002.
PiP responded to StBoP, seeing the potential for the new, smaller scale commissioning organisations and the potential for the new SHAs to join up across the old regional boundaries as perhaps remote and a threat. PiP’s activity-based Partnership needed both scale of vision – the gastroenterology network had struggled to get the many Health Authorities to engage together, and a willingness to work across boundaries – especially the old West Midlands and North West Regions.
PiP’s response, ratified at its Steering Group in November 2001, can be seen here: