NHS England confirms plans to hand CCGs primary care commissioning role

A top official has reiterated NHS England's commitment to handing CCGs a wider role in running primary care, just days after GP leaders rejected similar proposals.

NHS England: primary care commissioning role for CCGs
NHS England: primary care commissioning role for CCGs

NHS England’s head of commissioning development Rosamond Roughton confirmed the organisation was ‘looking very actively’ at giving CCGs a role in primary care commissioning.

Speaking at the NHS England Innovation Expo in Manchester, Ms Roughton said the current situation with multiple commissioners for a population was a barrier to a sustainable health system.

‘I think we will see a drive towards greater joint and shared commissioning. Not just across CCGs, but between CCGs and NHS England,’ she said.

‘On primary care, for example, we’ve had an overwhelming desire for CCGs to get involved in the strategic direction of commissioning of primary care, and certainly we in NHS England are now looking very actively at how we can make that happen.’

Last month deputy medical director Dr Mike Bewick said co-commissioning could mean changes to GP contracts.

Speaking alongside Ms Roughton, GP and clinical chairman of Leeds CCG Dr Jason Broch, said fragmentation of commissioning was a problem. 

‘We buy bits of healthcare from GPs, we buy bits of healthcare from hospitals, we buy bits of health and social care from social care, and we buy bits from community service and mental health providers. And then we stand back as commissioners and expect the system to work together, even though it has all been bought and put together in a very fragmented way.’

Fragmentation of the system, said Dr Broch, had provided an opportunity, forcing people to work together towards ‘common goals’.

Last week GP leaders slammed proposals by the NHS Clinical Commissioners organisation to give CCGs powers to commission and decommission general practice.

GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash said the BMA opposed CCGs commissioning or decommissioning GP contracts because of the potential conflict of interest.

While there was a role for CCGs to provide ‘local knowledge and input’, she said the proposals risked blurring lines of accountability and opening the system to claims of ‘nepotism and favouritism’.

Birmingham LMC secretary Dr Robert Morley said: ‘The idea that organisations made up of GP practices should be laying down the law to their, in effect, competitor practices, who are competing to provide GP core services, to put them out of business, is absolutely nonsensical, it’s barmy, it’s lunatic, it’s barking mad.’

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