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Local area teams still not in place, admits Commissioning Board chair

The organisations that will hold and be responsible for managing GP contracts from 1 April have still not been fully assembled, the chair of the NHS Commissioning Board has admitted.

Professor Malcolm Grant told the Commissioning Live event in Leeds that with just 11 days to go until the handover from PCTs, some local area teams had yet to be fully established.

He also acknowledged that there would be ‘tensions’ between the NHS Commissioning Board and CCGs over their separate commissioning responsibilites , and admitted the board had ‘struggled’ with the financial allocations for each commissioning group.

Professor Grant said: ‘I think there will be tensions in the way CCGs operate. I think one of them will be trying to understand where is the boundary between where what we will be doing in terms of national specialised commissioning and what is happening in CCGs.’

‘We will still be working with our area teams to ensure there is a national, clear and single sort of approach. Remember, our area teams are part of the single board, but we are still assembling them and they will take a little while to be fully up and running and working with the full resources that enable them to work closely with CCGs.’

Dr Peter Swinyard, chair of the Family Doctor Association and a GP in Swindon, said: ‘This is the way the health service runs: “Let’s run a health service. When shall we do it? Yesterday”.’

‘The contract imposition was only confirmed on Monday – that takes place in 11 days’ time too.’

A spokesperson for the NHS Commissioning Board said: ‘We are confident that the new organisations, including the NHS Commissioning Board and its area teams, will be ready to discharge their functions. There is of course a lot to do before they are achieving their full potential. So next month is an important milestone on our journey, but it is not the final destination.’

‘We will all need to keep learning and listening as we go so we build an NHS that is more responsive, more transparent and more compassionate on behalf of patients.’