Exclusive: NHS funding freeze could derail CCG co-commissioning

Co-commissioning of primary care by CCGs could be derailed by politicians' failure to commit to increase NHS funding, one of the architects of the plan has warned.

Dr Steve Kell: NHS funding threat to commissioning (Photo: JH Lancy)
Dr Steve Kell: NHS funding threat to commissioning (Photo: JH Lancy)

Dr Steve Kell, a GP and co-chairman of NHS Clinical Commissioners, which represents CCGs, said that ahead of the general election there had been a 'lack of commitment so far from many of the political parties' to the £8bn additional funding identified by NHS leaders in the Five Year Forward View. 'That is something else that could derail co-commissioning,' he said.

Dr Kell, speaking at the Commissioning Primary Care 2015 conference organised by GP's sister site Inside Commissioning, said local politics was also a risk for the plans to hand CCGs power to commission primary care. If co-commissioning is to succeed, he said, CCGs must have joint and equal relationships with local authorities.

CCGs should also ensure general practice is well represented, 'and that we commission health in a way that we know will need clinical leadership input', Dr Kell told the conference.

Improving GPs' lives

There was 'no point giving a practice an extra £10 a head', without dealing with workload, he added. 'Many areas, rightly, are investing in community nurse teams, for example, better nursing home support to make the life of GPs more doable,' he said. 'And to make patient services better.'

Dr Kell said there was a 'danger' of losing clinical leadership in the guidance and regulations for co-commissioning. 'There is a danger, I think, that through some of the guidance, the joint committees, the removal of GPs from voting, that we lose the clinical voice if we are not careful,' he warned.

'I think it is important that we keep the membership part of this. The GP part of this. It is about clinical leadership.'

Addressing fears over conflicts of interest when GP-led CCGs take over primary care commissioning, Dr Kell said there could be no clinical leadership of commissioning without recognising conflicts.

Co-commissioning could also be at risk, he added, if money for commissioning primary care, which was taken from PCTs in 2013, was not given back to CCGs.

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