NHS primary care trust

NHS primary care trust
A Primary Care Trust may commission community health centres.

An NHS primary care trust (PCT) is a type of NHS trust, part of the National Health Service in England. PCTs commission primary, community and secondary care from providers. Until 31 may2011 they also provided community services directly. Collectively PCT are responsible for spending around 80% of the total NHS budget. Primary Care Trusts are scheduled for abolition on 31 March 2013.

PCTs have 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 provide funding for general practitioners and medical prescriptions; they also commission hospital and mental health services from appropriate NHS trusts or from the private sector. Many PCTs are now calling themselves NHS and then the name of their geographical area to make it easier for local people to understand how the NHS is managed locally.



PCTs are managed by a team of executive directors headed by a chief executive. These directors are members of the trust's board, together with non-executive directors appointed after open advertisement. The chairman of a trust is a non-executive director. Other board members may include representatives from the trust's Professional Executive Committee (PEC) (elected from local GPs, community nurses, pharmacists, dentists etc.).

The finance and much of the agenda of PCTs is effectively determined by directives from the strategic health authority (SHA) or the Department of Health.


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.[1]

On 12th July 2010, Andrew Lansley unveiled a new health White Paper (which later became the Health and Social Care Bill 2011) describing significant structural changes to the NHS under the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government. Among the changes announced, PCTs are to be wholly abolished by 2013 with GP-led Commissioning Consortia assuming most of the commissioning[disambiguation needed ] responsibilities they formerly held.[2] The public health aspects of PCT business will be taken on by local councils. Strategic health authorities will 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.[3][4]


  1. ^ Local health bodies face shake-up BBC News, May 16 2006
  2. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jul/12/radical-nhs-reform-plans
  3. ^ Coalition to 'pause, listen and reflect' on NHS reform ePolitix.com, published 2011-04-06, accessed 2011-04-06
  4. ^ Government to "pause, listen, reflect and improve" NHS reform plans guardian.co.uk, published 2011-04-06, accessed 2011-04-06

See also

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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