Top civil servants are drawing up legislation that will hand control of up to 80 percent of the NHS budget to GPs.
Ministers say their forthcoming health bill will allow decisions about which services to provide to be made at a local level, rather than by bureaucrats.
But health workers and NHS experts rightly fear that doctors’ practices will struggle to implement the complex new system.
Thousands of specialist jobs are already being slashed as a new commissioning board and economic regulator prepare to replace existing health authorities and primary care trusts.
“Disruption is a key concern,” says Nigel Edwards, of the bosses’ NHS Confederation. “The state is withdrawing from the day-to-day management of healthcare.”
Private companies will be the main beneficiaries of the plan, as they will be brought in to “manage” the new system.
The government’s plan will compound the growing NHS funding crisis.
Almost all of London’s 31 primary care trusts are already spending much more than planned on acute hospital services, according to a survey by pressure group London Health Emergency.