BMA seeks talks with government over commissioning support 'privatisation' plans

The BMA is seeking talks with the government over plans that could potentially lead to the privatisation of NHS commissioning support.

Dr Buckman: CCGs forced to use commercial organisations to provide commissioning support services
The BMA has warned that proposals outlined in the DoH draft guidance - Developing commissioning support: Towards service excellence – would ‘position commissioning support in a full-scale market and introduce commercially-focused criteria’.

The DoH guidance made a number of recommendations about how clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) should function from 2013, including how technical and ‘back-office’ functions should be provided.

It also said that PCT clusters would form commissioning support units and from 2016 they would be encouraged to form social enterprises and partner with the private sector.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said the proposals introduce commercially-focused criteria to determine who is eligible to provide commissioning support.

‘It basically says in 2016 we’re going to offer this to the private sector,’ Dr Buckman said.

The BMA warned these criteria would make it very difficult for CCGs to employ their own commissioning support staff and for NHS commissioning support bodies evolving from existing PCT clusters to compete against large, established commercial organisations.

Dr Buckman said that CCGs would be left with little choice, but to use these large, commercial organisations to provide a huge range of commissioning support services.

‘There is choice and there is choice... where the government has clearly laid out its agenda in a document. If you read this document choice is a bit of a myth,’ Dr Buckman said.

He warned that the people who had the greatest level of experience in commissioning, the PCT staff, would be pushed out of the loop.

‘To provide continuity at a time of huge financial pressure and structural overhaul, current PCT clusters should be supported to become viable commissioning support organisations and should not be forced into an unfair competitive process with large, commercial organisations,’ Dr Buckman said.

He said the BMA was seeking an ‘urgent meeting’ with the government to urge it to reconsider these proposals.

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