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Green light for first wave of clinical commissioning groups

NHS Commissioning Board authorises 34 CCGs

Jo Carlowe

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The NHS Commissioning Board (NHS CB) has this week authorised 34 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to take control of the NHS budget for their communities.

These make up the first of 211 groups that will, from 1 April 2013, be responsible for up to £65 billion of the £95 billion NHS CB budget. The 34 CCGs have all completed a five-month assessment and will in total plan and commission hospital, community health and mental health services on behalf of some ten million people.

Sir David Nicholson, the NHS Commissioning Board’s Chief Executive, said: “The creation of CCGs is a great opportunity for the NHS that will have real benefits for patients. In future, the vast majority of decisions about how we use the public’s money will be made in the community by the clinicians who are closest to the needs of the people they look after.

“They have the knowledge and expertise to lead the improvements in services that we all want to see. We are determined to push power to the front line where talented clinicians and their teams can make a real difference.”

Commenting on the milestone, Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation said the groups would have the potential to make huge improvements in care provided they were given the ‘freedom’ to make bold decisions.

“Changes to the NHS commissioning structure have had a significant impact on all those affected by it. We must ensure that the hard work to get to this point is worth it,” he said. “Lasting success will depend on CCGs having the freedom to make bold and brave decisions that are in the interests of improving care.”

He added: “We must avoid overwhelming CCGs with complexity and instead focus on the key issues - maintaining financial stability and developing new models of care for patients and local communities.”

And he warned the public to anticipate some teething trouble. 

“We need to be realistic with the public, politicians and the wider NHS and acknowledge that performance may be patchy at first. Developing a long-term, successful commissioning model will require open-mindedness and flexibility to improve policy and practice as we go.”

NHS Clinical Commissioners (NHSCC), an independent body representing Clinical Commissioning Groups has welcomed the authorisation of the first wave.

Michael Dixon the NHSCC’s Interim President said: “Locally led clinical commissioning has today taken a major stride forward. Clinical commissioners are already beginning to tackle issues head on working with their local community’s to develop their own solutions that respond to local needs and patients’ concerns.”

Eight of the 34 CCGs in the first wave have been authorised with no conditions, meaning they fully met all 119 authorisation criteria. The remaining 26 authorised CCGs need to continue developing so they also meet the criteria in all areas.

Charles Alessi, the NHSCC Interim Chair said: “It is to be welcomed that several CCGs have been authorised with no or minimal conditions. Where the NHS Commissioning Board has decided that decisions need to be signed off or approved by the Board we would expect the NHS CB to work in a supportive and facilitative manner so as to ensure that conditions are lifted as soon as is practicable. As we move towards 1 April 2013 we trust that the NHS CB will be working with CCGs to ensure that the maximum number of conditions is met and CCGs are fully authorised.”

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