The NHS Alliance and the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) have joined forces to create an independent body representing Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).
The coalition will be the collective voice for practising clinicians, CCGs and their leaders to ensure that commissioning bodies are fully involved with the new NHS.
Dr Johnny Marshall, Chairman of NAPC, said: “We are seeing many obstacles, from all quarters of the NHS and elsewhere, being placed to deter and restrain the successful engagement and operation of CCGs.”
Dr Michael Dixon, Chairman of the NHS Alliance, commented: “We will listen to and represent CCGs’ views and concerns without compromise, wherever and whenever necessary. We will be a united voice that will serve to balance the top heavy approach often seen in the NHS.
“As the two organisations that have wholeheartedly championed clinical commissioning over the last two decades, we have a long history of commitment and dedication to the clinical commissioning cause.”
The coalition has agreed a number of shared principles. They include:
- NHS commissioning should be a public function exercised by statutory bodies in the public sector alone. NHS commissioners should be free to choose the support they need from whatever source they feel to be appropriate.
- The NHS should be based on an approach that maximises local responsibility and ownership through local determination rather than central direction, meaning that the NHS Commissioning Board should only take responsibility for things that must be done at national level.
- CCG Boards should have GPs as majority members with a strong primary care focus. Boards will need to ensure the appropriate involvement of other clinicians and managers and have strong representation from local communities and independent directors.
- NHS provision should be appropriately distributed across the public, third and independent sectors according to the public interest. Those providing NHS services should clearly subscribe to NHS values of openness, transparency and accountability and behave in a manner consistent with those values.
- The NHS should develop integrated care, centred on the needs of the patient rather than the providing organisations, supported by appropriate payment systems.
The coalition has also established a number of priorities it sees as essential. They include:
- To lobby the Government to review the role of the NHS Commissioning Board to ensure that it is set up as an organisation that enables rather than controls CCGs’ work.
- CCGs’ self-determination – Clinical Senates, Clinical Networks, and Local Health and Wellbeing Boards should help not hinder CCGs, who must have the final decision with their patients.
- Work with the Government to ensure that aspiring CCGs receive the funds intended to support their development.
- Oppose suggestions that CCGs should be constrained in their choice of commissioning support.
- Monitor and CQC to demonstrate that they are acting in the public interest. The coalition will seek to ensure that CCGs have the means of challenging their decisions.
- Transparency - the coalition believes that the payment of any quality premium to reward CCGs which commission effectively should be transparent, represent good value for money and be in the public interest.
Both forces will contribute to and have ownership of the new initiative, whilst acting as individual identities regarding other functions.
Dr Johnny Marshall added: “Our respective organisations bring their particular strengths to the table to enable us to be bigger than the sum of our parts.
“The strength of our two organisations working in partnership on the same agenda should reassure Clinical Commissioning Groups of our commitment to their cause and that of their patients.
“We will strive to ensure that CCGs are not overburdened with NHS bureaucracy and red tape and are set free to deliver innovative and population focused services.”
A steering group is advancing the coalition's collaborative work.