CCGs should only make evidence-based cuts, says NHS official

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) that cut local services will be backed by NHS leaders if their decisions are based on evidence, according to an NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB) official.

Ian Dalton: NHS Commissioning Board will back tough decisions
Ian Dalton: NHS Commissioning Board will back tough decisions

Speaking at the NHS Alliance conference in Bournemouth on Wednesday, NHSCB deputy chief executive and chief operating officer Ian Dalton said CCGs would need to make tough decisions about redesigning services.

But he said as long as those decisions were evidence-based and supported by engagement with GPs and patients, the NHSCB would support them.

Mr Dalton said: ‘I am well aware that redesigning services is tough and can lead to contention. One of the messages I do want to give you today is the NHSCB is here, at least in part, to support you when things get tough and if things get tough.

‘So our local area teams will be there to work with CCGs not in the sense of direction but absolutely in the sense of support. Where the case has been made for improvement and change that drive forward quality of care we will be there to support CCGs to make things happen.’

Mr Dalton added that as long as a CCG’s case for cutting services was ‘irreproachably strong’ and was backed by evidence of patient engagement and clinician input, it would ‘absolutely’ be backed by the board.

CCGs will play a key role in improving primary care, he added. ‘We know that getting primary care into a state that draws on its current success but reflects the changes we need...if we could work together on that, us in our commissioning role managing the contract of providers and CCGs in their lead role of taking on improvement, I do believe good things will come from that.’

‘As part of that partnership the NHSCB is very comfortable indeed to be held to account by CCGs for the way we discharge our elements of that.'

Earlier in the day, NHSCB commissioning lead Dame Barbara Hakin said that despite not holding GP contracts, CCGs could still make changes in primary care that would affect the services that they did commission in secondary care.

She said: ‘There are many many things that CCGs can do as part of their commissioning that are actually about helping the totality of primary care, but in particular general practice, to do things in a very different way that has a huge effect on the commissioning of secondary care.’

Dame Barbara also said CCGs should play a role in defining core GMS contract services.

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