CCGs required to use accounting system as authorisation condition

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will be required to use an accounting system run by NHS Shared Business Services, a joint venture between firm Steria and the NHS, as a condition of their authorisation.

Benefits of one system include enabling CSUs to support different CCGs
Benefits of one system include enabling CSUs to support different CCGs

The NHS Commissioning Board will meet the full £15.38m annual cost of the contract for the integrated finance and accounting system.

Its use is already widespread in the NHS with deployment in 80 of the 150 PCTs in England and eight of the 10 SHAs, with user satisfaction rising from 39% in 2007 to 95% in 2010. There is significant coverage in the south, London and East Midlands.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the NHS Commissioning Board Authority in Leeds this afternoon. The board paper details proposal ‘downsides’ including ‘concern over the value for money of the proposal as there would be no competitive tension in the procurement process; and a reaction from the CCGs that local flexibility in choosing their own finance and accounting system had been taken away from them’.

CCGs are expected to be able to use it from April 2013 when they launch.

The contract is for six years from 1 October 2012 with an annual break clause with 12 months’ notice effective from 31 March 2016 and annually afterwards.

Paul Taylor, interim director of finance for the NHS Commissioning Board Authority, told the meeting: ‘Commissioning support units (CSUs) are absolutely crucial to this. They will be substantial users of the system doing a lot of difficult work on behalf of CCGs.’

He admitted that the system did not allow for contract management and that this would be an ambition to be included from 2016.

Benefits of one system covering all commissioning include allowing regular and rapid review by the Board of the financial position of the NHS and to enable CSUs to support a number of different CCGs through the use of a common accounting system.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘GPs need assurances that the services provided will be in effective, responsive, done in a timely manner with clear communication channels.

‘At no point was there any dialogue with the GPC about this going national. Our discussions have been about the problems faced in certain areas that already use Shared Business Services, such as missed payments. It seems like these problems have not been sorted out before the jump to make it national.’

A spokeswoman for Shared Business Services said: 'NHS Commissioning Board Authority chooses NHS Shared Business Services to deliver Integrated Single Financial Environment (ISFE)

'NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) is pleased to have been awarded the contract to deliver a single integrated Finance & Accounting system for the NHS Commissioning Board and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

'The NHS Commissioning Board needs to be able to manage risk and costs effectively from the day of its establishment in October 2012 and CCGs will need to do the same from their establishment in April 2013. The Integrated Single Finance Environment, which has been developed by NHS SBS, will provide the platform to enable this to happen.

'NHS SBS has the infrastructure and capacity to provide the Integrated Single Financial Environment, and has a six year track record of successfully transforming business support services for NHS Trusts and organisations.'


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