First NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups approved

10 Dec 12
The NHS Commissioning Board today approved the first of the GP-led consortiums that will control most NHS spending in England from next year.
By Richard Johnstone | 11 December 2012

The NHS Commissioning Board today approved the first of the GP-led consortiums that will control most NHS spending in England from next year.

Doctor and patient NHS Commissioning groups

The Clinical Commissioning Groups, being established as part of controversial changes in the Health and Social Care Act, will take over responsibility for commissioning next April.

Thirty-four groups have been approved today, serving 10 million people across four regions ­­– the North of England, the Midlands & East, the South of England and London.

A total of 211 groups are expected to be created. Together, they will have responsibility for around £65bn of the NHS’s total £95bn annual budget and have more than 8,000 GP practices as members.

However, only eight of the initial 34 have been approved with no conditions following the five-month assessment by the Commissioning Board, which is responsible for ensuring the groups meet the standards set out in the legislation. Authorisation is granted after experts have reviewed the CCG’s policies, carried out site visits, interviewed its leaders and assessed its work with stakeholders and patients.

The remaining 26 authorised CCGs need to continue developing so they also meet the criteria in all areas. 

NHS Commissioning Board chief executive Sir David Nicholson said the creation of CCGs was a great opportunity for the NHS that will have real benefits for patients’.

He added: ‘In future, the vast majority of decisions about how we use the public’s money will be made in the community by the clinicians who are closest to the needs of the people they look after. 

‘They have the knowledge and expertise to lead the improvements in services that we all want to see.  We are determined to push power to the front line where talented clinicians and their teams can make a real difference.’

Dame Barbara Hakin, the NHS Commissioning Board’s national director of commissioning development, said that this would be ‘a step-change’ to an NHS that is focused on delivering improved health outcomes, quality, innovation and public participation’.

She added: ‘It is important that CCGs are robust and capable of making important decisions. During authorisation, we closely scrutinise their leadership, engagement with patients and clinicians, and their financial stability.

‘CCGs have admirably risen to the challenge. There is, of course, more to do and we will continue to provide support as appropriate. But these CCGs are to be congratulated on the fantastic achievement of establishing themselves.’

The Commissioning Board will complete the authorisation process for the remaining 177 CCGs in a further three waves in January, February and March 2013.

Responding to the announcement, the NHS Confederation, which represents different organisations within the health service, said CCGs had the potential to make huge improvements to care. Chief executive Mike Farrar said: ‘Giving clinicians greater commissioning powers is an element of reform that everyone is behind.’

But he added: ‘We must ensure that the hard work to get to this point is worth it. Lasting success will depend on CCGs having the freedom to make bold and brave decisions that are in the interests of improving care.’

He also warned of the need to be ‘realistic with the public, politicians and the wider NHS and acknowledge that performance may be patchy at first’.


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