NHS primary care trust
An NHS primary care trust (PCT) was a type of NHS trust, part of the National Health Service in England. PCTs were largely administrative bodies, responsible for commissioning primary, community and secondary health services from providers. Until 31 May 2011 they also provided community health services directly. Collectively PCTs were responsible for spending around 80% of the total NHS budget. Primary Care Trusts were abolished on 31 March 2013 as part of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, with their work taken over by Clinical Commissioning Groups.
PCTs held their own budgets and set their own priorities, within the overriding priorities and budgets set by the relevant Strategic Health Authority, and the Department of Health. They provided funding for general practitioners and medical prescriptions; they also commissioned hospital and mental health services from appropriate NHS provider trusts or from the private sector. Many PCTs used the naming style "NHS", followed by the geographical area, to make it easier for local people to understand the management of the NHS locally.
PCTs were managed by a team of executive directors headed by a chief executive. These directors were members of the trust's board, together with non-executive directors appointed after open advertisement. The chairman of a trust was a non-executive director. Other board members included the chair of the trust's Professional Executive Committee (PEC) (elected from local GPs, community nurses, pharmacists, dentists etc.).
In 2005 the Government announced that the number of strategic health authorities and primary care trusts would be reduced, the latter by about 50%. The result is that, as of 1 October 2006, there are 152 PCTs (reduced from 303) in England, with an average population of just under 330,000 per trust. After these changes, about 70% of PCTs are coterminous with local authorities having social service responsibilities, which increasingly facilitates joint planning.
On 12 July 2010, Andrew Lansley unveiled a new health white paper (which eventually became law as the Health and Social Care Act 2012) describing significant structural changes to the NHS under the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. Among the changes announced, PCTs were to be abolished by 2013 with new GP-led commissioning consortia, Clinical Commissioning Groups, taking on the responsibilities they formerly held. The public health aspects of PCT business would become the responsibility of local councils. Facilities owned by PCTs would transfer to NHS Property Services. Strategic health authorities would also be abolished under these plans. Following widespread criticism of the plans, on April 4, 2011, the Government announced a "pause" in the progress of the Health and Social Care Bill to allow the government to 'listen, reflect and improve' the proposals.
The Health and Social Care Act 2012 received Royal Assent on the 27th March 2012 and PCTs were formally abolished on the 31st March 2013.
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- Local health bodies face shake-up BBC News, May 16 2006
- "Health and Social Care Act 2012". UK Parliament Website. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
- Coalition to 'pause, listen and reflect' on NHS reform ePolitix.com, published 2011-04-06, accessed 2011-04-06
- Government to "pause, listen, reflect and improve" NHS reform plans guardian.co.uk, published 2011-04-06, accessed 2011-04-06