The prediction by NHS England came as it approved a further 51 local groups to take on full control over GP contracting in their areas, bringing the total to 114 for the 2016/17 financial year.
At the current pace of change NHS England said it expects nearly all of the current 211 CCGs to take on full powers by 2017/18.
A report by national director of commissioning strategy Ian Dodge to NHS England’s March board meeting said the delegated model, one of three co-commissioning arrangements available to CCGs, was ‘most likely to deliver the greatest benefits for local populations’.
According to the report, CCGs with fully delegated control of primary care commissioning have reported benefits including increased local appetite to develop primary care services and new care models, more joined up primary care that is better aligned to CCGs’ wider system priorities, increased clinical leadership and public involvement in primary care, and improved CCG relationships with local stakeholders including practices.
CCGs were first invited by NHS England to take on more commissioning responsibilities for primary care in May 2014. Local groups chose one of three models - fully delegated, joint commissioning or more involvement.
Under full delegation, CCGs take full control of commissioning GP practices, while legal responsibility remains with NHS England.