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CCGs will be allowed to make their own decisions, government promises

Reassurance came at Monday’s summit meeting to discuss reforms

Caroline White

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The government has promised that clinical commissioning groups will be left alone to make their own local decisions.

The promise, which was made at Monday’s summit meeting with the prime minister and health secretary Andrew Lansley, will go some considerable way to allaying fears repeatedly expressed by NHS Alliance chair, Mike Dixon, and others, that newly emergent CCGs were being stifled by too much top-down interference.

Dr Charles Alessi, a senior member of the NHS Alliance and National Primary Care Association’s Clinical Commissioning Coalition, described the mood of Monday’s meeting as “extremely positive.” He said that both David Cameron and Andrew Lansley were “very upbeat” in their reassurances that clinical commissioning would become a reality in the near future.

“It was also very encouraging to learn of the improvements already taking place through clinical commissioning, including the drop in the number of emergency admissions to hospital in the last year,” he said. And he added: “This is particularly encouraging, given the political environment, in which they have taken place over that period, and this is just the tip of the iceberg, in terms of what is both possible and necessary.”

Donal Hynes, another senior member of the CCC, who also attended the summit, commented: “We emphasised with the PM the importance of gaining reassurances that local decision-making would be guaranteed in the reforms. This reassurance from the PM will go a long way towards assuaging the concerns of many about the prospects of slipping into another top-down management model.”

Nevertheless, the Clinical Commissioning Coalition has pledged to continue to represent the concerns and ambitions of CCGs in regular discussions with the Department of Health.

In a statement issued today, it said: “We will continue efforts to build on the potential the reforms offer for improving the quality of patient care and modernising the NHS, and wholeheartedly support clinical commissioning as the appropriate vehicle for delivery.”

Meanwhile, the Royal College of Nursing has joined other health unions in calling on the government to disclose the risks associated with the Health and Social Care Bill, in line with a request from the Information Commissioner.

The health bill risk register is due to be debated in parliament today, and the RCN, along with the BMA, the Royal College of Midwives and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, in a joint briefing, says: “We believe that the risk register should be disclosed immediately as a necessary aid for fully informed debate on the bill.”

The Information Commissioner ruled more than three months ago that the risk register should be released. “We are not persuaded that any of the reasons given by the government during the Lords’ deliberations on the bill are adequate reasons to refuse disclosure of the risk register on an issue of such public importance,” says the briefing.

“We urge the government to reconsider its position, and publish the full register now,” it concludes.

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