Edna Robinson, speaking at the Commissioning 2012 event in London, said despite the national focus on how the groups would commission secondary care, this was not the area on which they would be judged locally.
Ms Robinson, managing director of the NHS Clinical Commissioning Community, told the meeting: ‘The reputation of a CCG sits on its ability to drive up the quality of primary care.
‘It’s not something that can be avoided. And within the first year of CCGs we must look hard at the quality of primary care and address the issues.
‘Otherwise how can a CCG judge other providers when its own members are not up to scratch?’
Ms Robinson said GPs would bring a new reality to commissioning – a more practical approach and an impatience with long meetings and prevarication.
‘GPs work in real time and will want to be commissioning in real time as much as possible.’
She said this hands-on attitude was important to prevent the ‘scandals’ of inadequate care that had tarnished the NHS in recent years.
GPs would need to ‘walk the job’ and ‘open the cupboard doors’ in provider units, while using direct feedback from their patients in the surgery to ensure the quality of care is maintained.