Editorial - GPs' co-commissioning opportunities

GP was at the Congress Centre in London this month, with 200 CCG leaders and NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, when he announced plans to invite interested CCGs to apply for co-commissioning powers for primary care.

What was interesting after the anouncement was listening to GPs from CCGs asking Mr Stevens and health secretary Jeremy Hunt how they would enable the shift of funding from secondary to primary care that is needed to accompany the work leaving hospitals and arriving at practices' doors.

The answer was clear - CCGs should stop spending on secondary care when there was a better case for out-of-hospital funding. A very convenient answer, perhaps, from a government taking a step back from NHS responsibilities.

The editorial in our previous issue criticised 'The gamble of destabilising GP funding' and we should acknowledge that CCGs co-commissioning primary care is an opportunity for GPs to be paid for work that can be better done out of hospital.

The proper resourcing of primary care requires CCGs to have greater influence over funding.

The big fear, of course, is what happens if patient groups challenge how contracts are awarded?

GP is pleased to see that Mr Stevens and NHS England have taken steps to address this. CCGs applying for co-commissioning powers would need to show NHS England how they would advance integration, raise standards and cut health inequalities in primary care.

It is easy to envisage the headlines if things go wrong, but this doesn't mean it isn't worth doing.

Commissioners will have to ensure transparency and good governance, and show how they will guard against conflicts of interest.

Watch a video of Dr Amanda Doyle, co-chairwoman of the NHS Clinical Commissioners' leadership group, explaining what CCGs co-commissioning primary care will mean for GPs.

It's a sign, of course, that NHS England does not have the capacity to commission primary care well.

Now is the time for CCGs and their local flexibilities to reward those GPs taking on work from secondary care.

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