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Confidence in CCGs plummets as GPs feel excluded from decisions

Confidence in CCGs among GPs has plummeted, with the number of GPs believing that CCGs act without consulting them rocketing, NHS England has admitted.

NHS England’s ‘360 degree stakeholder survey’, conducted by Ipsos MORI, found that CCG performance in most areas declined, largely due to a negative shift in opinion from GP member practices .

Satisfaction with CCGs fell to around 50% in some areas, with confidence in CCGs’ abilities to deliver results for patients falling to 59% from 64% in 2015.

CCGs scores for GP engagement fell drastically, with the proportion of GPs who think arrangements for member participation in decision-making in the CCG are effective dropping to 59% in 2016 from 68% a year ago.

Just one in three GP member practices (33%) reported feeling able to influence CCGs’ decision-making process a great deal or a fair amount, whilst one in four report that they are not able to at all.

GP practices also reported that they received little or no engagement from CCGs in 2016, with nearly half of GP respondents (49%) saying that their views were not listened to.

NHS England said in a letter accompanying the survey: ‘Results show that satisfaction has fallen in some areas which in the majority of cases is caused by a shift in feedback from GPs only and is not reflected in the positions of other stakeholder groups.’

The survey said that the negative shift in opinion among GPs ‘should be viewed in the context of a challenging year for the NHS and a recognised growing burden on GPs’.

A spokesperson for NHS Clinical Commissioners said: ‘Overall the 360 report is broadly positive, though we have always maintained that member engagement is critical. Some areas do it better than others, and there isn’t a one size fits all approach to making it work.’

Family Doctor Association chair Dr Peter Swinyard said: ‘CCGs were created to set up a channel for blame straight to GPs, so it is not surprising that the results of the survey have been negative.

‘Many of the GPs who sit on CCG boards have gone native. Ideally you’d have a maximum tenure for GPs sitting on CCG boards but the number of volunteers is very often lower than the number of places.’

Seven stakeholder groups, including GPs, were interviewed for the survey which all 206 CCGs in England took part in.

It comes as GPs said last week that they had been excluded from consultations over secret plans for the future of general practice.

A joint report from think tanks the King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust published last month found that current relationships between CCGs and GP member practices are ‘fragile’, putting this down to practices feeling unable to affect CCG decision-making.