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Over 40% of CCG leads doubt NHS England's vision for primary care, shows survey

Over 40% of CCG leads believe NHS England does not share their vision for primary care, a survey carried out by NHS Clinical Commissioners has revealed - while many think CCGs would be better placed to commission GP services despite the risk of conflicts.

In a report based on a survey of 273 CCG managerial, clinical and financial leads, NHS Clinical Commissioners said CCG leads expressed concerns about NHS England’s vision for primary care and and their understanding of their role in commissioning local GP services.

However the research, carried out by Ipsos Mori, also showed CCGs were broadly positive about its working relationships with local area teams, with 64% reporting that this was effective. The positive image was somewhat tainted by the fact that only 14% thought the same about working with NHS England on a national level.

One in ten CCG leads expressed concerns that NHS England lacked the sufficient resources to commission primary care effectively, both on a national and an area team level and, asked if they believed that NHS England shared their vision for primary care, 43% of CCG leads disagreed and only 31% agreed. Further, only 37% of respondents felt that NHS England understood its decison-making powers with regards to primary care commissioning.

The report said: ‘The survey findings clearly show discontent about how NHS England and CCGs work together around co-commissioning. For primary care commissioning, CCG leads questioned the current arrangements and a number thought that such commissioning would sit better with CCGs. This was sometimes linked to the belief that CCGs were already having to take a lead on primary care commissioning and that CCGs were being passed responsibilities by NHS England, which they didn’t think had the capacity to fulfil its role.’

Commenting on the report, NHSCC president Dr Michael Dixon said: ‘At a time when the NHS is under extreme pressure, it is vital that primary care commissioning is properly resourced and that CCGs are enabled to take a more proactive role in the commissioning of primary care. CCGs must be given both the responsibility and the resources they need to better join up commissioning of services for patients.’

‘Our results show that at a local level CCGs and area teams are working together well and are cooperating to get things right. There are clear indications of good working partnerships but it is not yet consistent and it is vital that across NHS England they work hard to bring up all area teams to the standard of the best.’

It is not the first time Dr Dixon has aired his view that CCGs should commission primary care, and comes after NHS England has also opened up for the prospect but without giving full details on how it would work. In October, Sir Malcolm expressed that the risk of conflicts of interest remained the biggest obstacle.

Click here to read the report and NHSCC’s letter to NHS England

Readers' comments (2)

  • Phil Yates

    It's important that all the levers for creating the sort of changes we need to strengthen primary care and make it effective for its future role are available to the commissioning organisation responsible. Splitting this responsibility two ways is unnecessary as the CSU's independent procurement ensures the correct use of public money. More will be lost by keeping the split than will be risked by abolishing it. Michael's right - a split system for primary care commissioning is unhelpful and counterproductive.

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