Doctors who are set to take charge of the NHS budget as part of the Coalition's healthcare reforms are being "bullied and coerced" by local health chiefs, according to their representative body.
GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are due to take charge of buying and planning care in April 2013 as a plank of Andrew Lansley's overhaul of the NHS.
However, a survey has revealed that 60% of clinical leaders heading up the new organisations believe they are being bullied into changing the way they are set up by existing NHS managers.
They all voted "yes" to the question: "Do you believe that your CCG is being coerced or bullied to alter how you are setting it up, in ways that conflict with what you feel would benefit your local population?"
The research, conducted by the Clinical Commissioning Coalition (CCC), analysed responses from 67 out of the current 257 emerging CCGs.
Dr Michael Dixon, a founding member of the body, said: "We've heard too many reports that CCGs are being told by the current system managers that they must be created in specific ways.
"That is not what the old system is meant to be doing: it should be supporting CCG development, as last week's NHS Operating Framework made fully clear.
"In a significant number of cases, this seems to cross the line into unacceptable pressure in the form of bullying or coercion."
Mr Dixon said the bullying was coming from the management infrastructures of primary care trusts and strategic health authorities, bodies which will be replaced by CCGs in under two years time.
Dr Charles Alessi, another CCC leader, added: "We are deeply concerned about these top-down directives. We are calling upon ministers to stipulate the need for a completely different tone from PCT and SHA clusters if they really do want the vision of a transformed NHS to become reality."