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Commissioning coalition warns CCGs being fobbed off with inadequate PCT staff

GP commissioning is already being adversely affected by a lack of choice of commissioning support - with CCGs being fobbed off with PCT staff who are not up to the job, the NAPC/NHSA coalition has warned.

Many CCGs have already been forced to accept what´s on offer from their PCTs against their better judgement because there is insufficient choice available, the coalition believes.

The coalition has urged the Department of Health to act urgently on recommendations set out in its formal response to the commissioning support draft guidance ‘Towards Excellence'.

Dr Mike Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance, said: ‘People are taking what they´ve got - which in the worst case scenario means PCT staff that aren´t up to it. Where the support is not sufficiently good, commissioning is adversely affected.

'Shadow CCGs with budgets are beginning to emerge from spring onwards, so we´re on a tight deadline now. They will need all their ducks in a row very soon.'

The coalition´s recommendations include  that PCT clusters, in partnership with CCGs, should now be working with other sectors, including the local authority, third and independent sectors to increase the value of the commissioning offer, as well as to ensure, in the interests of the population, that the best value support is available to CCGs as soon as possible.

The same principles should apply to commissioning support for the NHS Commissioning Board, the response says.

The coalition has urged ministers to mirror the aspiration in the recent NHS Operating Framework that commissioning support ‘must be commercially viable, customer-focused and develop geographic and service foot print to that of clusters or their constituent PCTs.  Opportunities to aggregate demand from CCGs in aspects of commissioning support should be facilitated by PCT and SHA clusters'.

Dr Dixon added: ‘CCGs need access to the best possible commissioning support, which they must be able choose according to their own local needs and experience.

'This means being able to work with a range of providers in different sectors that can offer value and relevant expertise. Choice, self-determination and local focus will encourage CCGs to fulfil their raison d'être – that is to empower clinicians to make a positive difference to their patients and the local community whilst creating a NHS that is sustainable and efficient.'

Dr Johnny Marshall, former chair of the NAPC said:  ‘If CCGs, as statutory bodies, are to have a choice from April 2013, there needs to be action now to develop that choice.  Otherwise the danger is that it will be perceived that another element of the coalition government's commitment to autonomy has not been fulfilled.'

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