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Give CCGs responsibility for commissioning GP services, says Farrar

Concern over GPs’ conflicts of interest should be put aside to give CCGs responsibility for commissioning primary care, says the chief executive of the NHS Confederation.

In a scathing critique of the new structure from April, Mike Farrar told delegates at the Commissioning Live conference that the reforms, which begin in 11 days’ time, will hinder the ability of clinical commissioners to make positive changes.

This criticism of the Health and Social Care Act from the head of the membership organisation for commissioners will strike a further blow to the Government’s claims that clinicians will be responsible for the NHS. This follows complaints yesterday from CCG leaders that they are being ‘micromanaged’ by the NHS Commissioning Board.

Mr Farrar said: ‘Even if CCGs, commissioning support units and – when it recovers – the NHS Commissioning Board are able to start telling a better story [about the direction of the health service], are the mechanisms and incentives underpinning that allowing them to deliver that? They are not.

‘Despite two years of this bill, the mechanisms in the system are still not orientated well enough to effectively support CCGs.’

He highlighted the fragmentation of commissioning spending, which sees CCGs commissioning secondary care, while local area teams are in charge of holding GP contracts and local authorities will be responsible for commissioning public health.

He said: ‘I worked for the past 15 years unifying budgets because all the evidence was if you brought budgets together, you got rid of silos and can orientate it. I believe that CCGs desperately need integrated commissioning spend if they are going to achieve integrated provision.

‘The stuff about conflicts of interest is peripheral to the agenda of how do commissioners commission community and hospital services unless they are orientating and improving primary care spend. That is not all about going into GPs’ pockets, it is about expanding the full range of primary care services.’

Pulse Live: 30 April – 1 May, Birmingham

Pulse Live

Find out what commissioning means for you and your practice at Pulse Live, our new two-day annual conference for GPs, practice managers and primary care managers.

Pulse Live offers practical advice on key clinical and practice business topics, as well as an opportunity to debate the future of the profession, and a top range of speakers includes NICE chair designate Professor David Haslam, GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey and the Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell MP, chair of the House of Commons health committee.

To find out more and book your place, please click here.