Health secretary Andrew Lansley has said there will be no reprieve for primary care trusts and strategic health authorities following the consultation on the white paper.

The health secretary told GP newspaper Pulse that the coalition government will go ahead with legislation to abolish PCTs and SHAs, following the transition to the reorganised NHS set out in the white paper ‘Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS’.

Lansley said the abolition was “not any criticism of individuals within primary care trusts” but came out of a clear philosophical approach to bring together the management of care responsibilities with the management of financial and resource responsibilities.

He added: “We have to get rid of intermediate tiers of management who would continue to hold on to power and not allow power to be properly devolved to the frontline.”

The 12 week consultation on the white paper closed two weeks ago and included responses from the NHS Confederation and the NHS Alliance, which both called on the government to save the expertise in PCTs.

Speaking at last week’s National Association of Primary Care annual conference, Lansley also announced that GP consortia will be invited to bid to become ‘pathfinder’ organisations, taking on budgets early next year.

GP practices that want to take be in the first wave of the pathfinder programme will need to put their name forward to their PCT and SHA by the end of October and start work from the new year. More details are expected to be released this week.

Lansley said the pathfinders would also be part of a Department of Health evaluation of GP commissioning that would take several years and that the DH would be providing £1 million of funding to “kick-start” the pathfinder programme.

He described the response from the GP profession to the white paper as one of “enthusiasm mixed with apprehension” but said there would be no change to the timescale of April 2013 for formal transfer of responsibilities from PCTs to GPs.

He told the conference that the idea that it would take longer than two and a half years was “unsustainable”.