CCGs could commission primary care, NHS England reveals

CCGs could be handed a greater role in primary care commissioning under plans set out by NHS England.

GP commissioners are set to be more involved in primary care commissioning

The move could see GP commissioners make decisions about primary care investment, NHS England said, after it admitted a more collaborative approach to commissioning was needed.

It comes after a report by NHS Clinical Commissioners (NHSCC) found that GP commissioners believe NHS England lacks the resources and experience to commission primary care and responsibility should be handed to England's 211 CCGs instead.

NHS England has ruled out primary care commissioning sitting ‘wholly with CCGs’.

However, it said it would look to involve CCGs more in commissioning decisions in future.

A spokeswoman said: ‘We are hearing a growing view that we need a more collaborative approach to commissioning primary care services. One that draws more strongly on the local clinical leadership that CCGs provide, and one that looks more holistically at how we develop primary care and other healthcare services across a locality.

‘This isn’t a case of commissioning sitting wholly with CCGs or wholly with NHS England. It is about being clear about what we both bring to the table in terms of supporting innovation and quality improvement.'

She added: ‘There are some aspects of commissioning that we don’t think anyone would suggest should sit with CCGs, for instance decisions on removing a contract or bringing in a new market entrant. There are also aspects of commissioning that CCGs are saying would benefit from joint governance, for instance decisions about making new local investments in primary care.'

NHS England has responsibility for commissioning primary care under the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

The NHSCC report, Ways of Working Survey, said: ‘Concerns about the resource available to area teams to deliver primary care commissioning were mirrored by a belief that CCGs, with more local knowledge, may be better placed to commission these services.

'These combined to cause some CCG leads to express a belief that primary care commissioning should be the remit of CCGs. It was recognised that this would require significant safeguards to be developed within the system, for example to avoid a conflict of interest.

‘Even if such a change is not possible, the findings suggest that greater clarity of roles and responsibilities and more communication between CCGs and NHS England would strengthen how the ways of working are implemented around primary care.’

OPINION: Why CCGs have a role in commissioning primary care - at's sister site Inside Commissioning.

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