67 new clinical commissioning groups given green light

Second wave of CCGs announced
Published on Thursday, 24 January 2013 14:26
Posted by Scott Buckler

NHS Commissioning Board authorises second wave of clinical commissioning groups, taking total to 101, serving more than 28 million people

Local clinicians have now been given the green light to take control of the NHS budget in almost half of England's local health communities, the new independent NHS Commissioning Board announced today.

The NHS Commissioning Board said it had authorised 67 further organisations – called clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) – to commission healthcare services for their communities. The first 34 CCGs were authorised in December 2012.

A total of 211 CCGs will, from1 April 2013, be responsible for £65 billion of the £95 billion NHS commissioning budget. The remaining 110 CCGs are set for authorisation over the next two months.

The second wave of CCGs, which have all completed a rigorous five-month assessment, will in total plan and commission hospital, community health and mental health services on behalf of more than 18 million people. The 34 CCGs authorised last month will serve a total of around 10 million people.

Dame Barbara Hakin, the NHS Commissioning Board's National Director: Commissioning Development, said: "Almost half of the CCGs are now authorised and we are moving at pace towards a clinically-led NHS that is focused on delivering improved health outcomes, quality, innovation and public participation.

"The vast majority of these 67 new organisations have demonstrated excellence and a very high level of achievement and are clearly ready for the challenge of leading their local health communities in partnership with the public and with local partner organisations. Many have been commissioning services for one or two years already and are making a significant difference to local health and care services.

"Authorisation is just the beginning: these new organisations will continue to develop, and I am confident patients will start to see real benefits in their local areas as CCGs begin to realise their potential."

CCGs, set up by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, will from April 2013 replace the 152 primary care trusts that currently commission healthcare services. They are independent statutory bodies, led by their members: the GP practices in their area.

All 8,000-plus GP practices in England will be members of a CCG, putting the majority of the NHS budget in the control of frontline clinicians for the first time.

The NHS Commissioning Board is responsible for ensuring CCGs meet and maintain standards – as set out in the Health and Social Care Act 2012, the NHS Constitution and the NHS Outcomes Framework.

Authorisation is granted after experts have ensured the CCG is safe and effective through a rigorous assessment and assurance process which includes reviewing the CCG's policies, carrying out detailed site visits, interviewing and assessing its leaders and assessing its work with stakeholders and patients.

The NHS Commissioning Board stresses that it expects the development and improvement of all CCGs – including those fully authorised – to continue up to April, as well as beyond.

Nineteen of the 67 CCGs in the second wave have been authorised with no conditions, meaning they fully met all 119 authorisation criteria.  A further 45 CCGs have been authorised with conditions, meaning they will continue to receive some formal support to help them continue their development so that they also fully meet the criteria in all areas.

Three CCGs – NHS Nene CCG, NHS Herts Valleys CCG, and NHS Medway CCG- will be authorised to take control of their commissioning budgets, but with more intensive support. This will be provided by the NHS Commissioning Board or neighbouring CCGs and will be underpinned by legal directions.

Dame Barbara Hakin said: "CCGs will have wide-ranging responsibilities and will manage very large budgets, so it is vital that they are robust and capable of making important decisions. The NHS Commissioning Board has a duty to ensure CCGs have that capability across all their responsibilities, and we take that duty very seriously.

"CCGs have made fantastic progress in a very short time. It has always been clear that some of the new organisations would be at different stages to others, often dependent on their previous commissioning activities. The NHS Commissioning Board has the mechanisms in place to give them all the support they need and we can assure the communities in these areas that health commissioning will be done to the same high standard as elsewhere.

"At the point of authorisation, a CCG has sufficient building blocks in place to become a mature and developed commissioning organisation. Even those CCGs authorised with no conditions at all will be working to make further improvements in the future, and the NHS Commissioning Board will continue to support all CCGs in their development."

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