NHS Commissioning Board could be 'greatest quango in the sky', Nicholson warns

The NHS Commissioning Board could become the 'greatest quango in the sky' if it does not properly engage with clinical commissioning groups, the chief executive of the NHS has said.

Mr Nicholson: the role of the NHS Commissioning Board would be to make clinical commissioning groups ‘the best they can possibly be’.
Mr Nicholson: the role of the NHS Commissioning Board would be to make clinical commissioning groups ‘the best they can possibly be’.

NHS chief executive David Nicholson said developing good relationships with GPs would be a key role for the NHS Commissioning Board.

Talking at a commissioning event in London, he said the role of the NHS Commissioning Board would be to make clinical commissioning groups ‘the best they can possibly be’.

It will not start from the position of making consortia ‘jump through hoops’, he said.

Mr Nicholson said: ‘That puts the NHS Commissioning Board in a much better place than a quasi-regulator. It must be an integral part of the commissioning system.

‘The NHS Commissioning Board could turn into the greatest quango in the sky. So it needs to have clinicians at its heart and the powerhouse for change in the system must be the clinical commissioning groups.’

Mr Nicholson added that the authorisation process will be a ‘joint effort’ between the NHS Commissioning Board and clinical commissioning groups. It will not be a ‘set of permissions’ GPs will need to meet, he said.

He said: ‘The authorisation process should be 360 degree process. We are developing the authorisation process collaboratively with pathfinders because at end of day it’s about supporting you to be best you can possibly be.’

He also said involving nurses and secondary care doctors in commissioning will ‘strengthen’ the process.

Mr Nicholson said the aim to make significant service changes across the NHS would not be achieved without involvement from other health professionals in commissioning.

He said the clinical networks and senates will be key to this process, and suggested that there will be 14 to 15 groups of clinicians nationally who will fulfil this role.

Meanwhile, Mr Nicholson said the NHS Future Forum was a ‘powerful’ means of getting the government’s message about the NHS reforms across. 

He said it highlighted the ‘old fashioned’ approach of publishing a White Paper, holding a consultation and updating legislation was ‘simply not good enough’. 

‘Using the NHS Future Forum, to talk to people and be an intermediate in that sense… I think is a very powerful system,' he said. 'I genuinely believe we have a much stronger set of proposals for change than we had before.

‘We have proved by the process, the work of NHS Future Forum and the results of pause and consultation that we are absolutely in right place. We have real opportunity – once in a generation opportunity - to really shift the NHS forward and do the kind of things we have all wanted to do for so long.’

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