Leading commissioner warns 'constrained' running costs could hinder quality checks

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) may not be able to adequately monitor the quality of services because of their 'constrained' running cost envelope, a leading GP commissioner has warned.

Dr Gordon: 'The capping of running costs for CCGs keeps me awake at night' (Photograph: Paul Starr/Haymarket Medical)

NHS Alliance GP Commissioning Federation national co-lead Dr Shane Gordon said the any qualified provider (AQP) policy is a ‘useful tool’ for increasing patient choice.

But he warned that it will have time and cost implications as CCGs will have to monitor an increased number of provider services.

He said a ‘real risk’ of the policy is that the ‘constrained’ running cost envelope for CCGs may make it impossible for CCGs to assure themselves of the quality of the services.

CCGs are currently set to receive between £25 and £35 per head of population for their running costs, although it is the expectation that it will be at the lower end of this scale.

He said: ‘The capping of running costs for CCGs keeps me awake at night. It is the biggest challenge we have to overcome: how to do a good job in a very tight and constrained management running cost.

‘This is one example of where less money on management is probably a false economy because we can provide the benefits of AQP but it takes an investment in the management of those services to make sure patients are provided with the quality assurance they need.’

Dr Gordon also warned that AQP could also increase costs for the NHS as a whole, as it could 'uncover demand for services' that was not previously met by the NHS.

He said: ‘For these sort of services, particularly for community and mental health services, we could uncover demand for services that previously was not met by the NHS and was funded privately by indiviudals or was not met at all and which the NHS is now going to pay for.'

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