DoH releases tool to prepare CCGs for accreditation

The DoH has launched an interactive tool to help prepare emerging clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) for accreditation.

The computer-based tool will allow CCGs to look at possible areas for improvement in their values, culture, behaviours and wider organisational health.

According to the DoH, the tool includes some of the key areas that are likely to be required for authorisation, but it is not part of the authorisation process.

All CCGs will be established by 1 April 2013, but they will only be authorised to take on budgetary responsibility when they are ready to do so.

However it is compulsory for all CCGs to have used a self-diagnostic tool by October 2012.

The DoH diagnostic tool should encourage CCGs to start considering the new roles and responsibilities they will be expected to take on as statutory bodies, the DoH said.

As part of its guidance, the tool suggests that CCGs identify the information required to make 'robust commissioning decisions'.

It suggests 'benchmarking the cost, quality and activity of providers' and 'systematic review of procedures and services that are providing little value'.

Feedback and peer review are an optional part of the process. It will be up to CCGs' leadership teams to decide how they used the tool and any information produced will belong to them.

National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) chairman Dr Johnny Marshall said that the NAPC, along with a number of emerging CCGs, had worked on the tool.

Dr Marshall said that the tool would help CCGs work out their ‘state of readiness’ for commissioning. The tool was designed to give help when required without being an imposition, he said.  

‘We would encourage people to have a look at it and make their own judgement,’ Dr Marshall added.

The tool will initially be available as an interactive spreadsheet, but by autumn 2011 a fully web-based version will be available, the DoH said.

The DoH recommends that emerging CCGs use the tool as soon as possible, to support their development over the next 12 to 18 months.

PCT clusters will provide CCGs with help to use the tool and support information, the DoH said.

GP Dr Stephen Kell is the executive chair of Bassetlaw Commissioning Organisation, Nottinghamshire, which has become one organisation with the local PCT.

Dr Kell said: ‘The tool is extremely useful for CCGs especially in identifying areas for development and debate.’

‘There is a welcome focus on requirements for delivery and improving quality in the toolkit.’

Dr Kell said that the Bassetlaw Commissioning Organisation intended to share its toolkit results with key partners.

Dr Charles Alessi, senior GP partner of the Churchill Practice in Kingston, Surrey, said that the self-diagnostic tool seemed like a good idea.

'What we should be doing is assessing the quality of what we want to achieve,' Dr Alessi said.

Dr Alessi said it was a wonderful opportunity to improve CCGs' commissioning skills.

'Commissioning has been undervalued over the last few years,' Dr Alessi said.

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