CCGs could get more formal commissioning powers should the Conservative Party win next year’s general election, as health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced he wants them to become ‘accountable organisations’ holding fixed budgets for primary and social care.
Speaking at the RCGP annual conference yesterday, Mr Hunt said he wants to give GPs ‘an even bigger role’ in commissioning and that Labour’s plans to take this responsibility away from GPs would ‘be a tragedy’. According to Mr Hunt, GPs have made ‘fantastic progress’ in commissioning and developing links between primary and secondary care, and should be given more chance to develop the work and take control of capitated budgets.
He said: ‘Of course it takes time for new structures to bed down, but I think we are seeing some really transformative innovation because of that clinical leadership in the commissioning process, some fantastically better links between primary care, community care and acute care because of the involvement of clinicians. Far from wanting GPs to be taken out of that commissioning process, I would like them to have a much bigger role even than they have now. I would like CCGs to move gradually to becoming accountable care organisations, with capitated budgets.’
While NHS England is already in advanced stages of handing primary care commissioning powers to CCGs, Mr Hunt went even further saying he also wants CCGs to co-commission social care with local authorities.
He said: ‘I’d like to see them having responsibility not just for commissioning secondary care but working with NHS England to co-commission primary care and local authorities to co-commission social care, so that we have in each part of the country a group of people clinically-led, clinically experienced, people who are themselves talking to patients every day who are making decisions about how to deliver the best integrated, joined up care.’
‘I think it would be a great tragedy to lose that.’