Health secretary Andrew Lansley has revealed he expects all CCGs to be authorised by next April, as the NHS moves forward from the 'big burst of politics' that has now subsided following the passing of the Health and Social Care Bill.
Mr Lansley also told CCG leaders that it would not be their responsibility to financially prop up ailing hospital trusts, and reassured GP commissioners that they will have freedom to decide whether to use competition when commissioning, and where they acquire their commissioning support from.
In a keynote speech at the NHS Alliance and NAPC Clinical Commissioning Coalition's conference for CCG leaders, the health secretary promised delegates: 'The autonomy you have is real.'
He said: 'The status quo was never an option. We are on a new place now, a new platform. You are that platform. It is clinically led.'
'We had a big burst of politics, but part of the objective was to get beyond all that for good.'
Mr Lansley said it was his desire to see all CCGs authorised by next April, albeit with some having conditions attached, and said he had articulated this to the NHS Commissioning Board.
He said: 'I've made it clear in a letter following the meetings with Malcolm [Grant] and David [Nicholson] that when we're looking at authorisation, it may have conditions in some places but we're looking to not only establish CCGs but authorise CCGs across England. Inevitably some CCGs will be authorised with conditions but they are not enduring.'
When pressed by NHS Alliance chair Dr Michael Dixon as to whether he was suggesting all CCGs might be authorised next April, albeit some with conditions, Mr Lansley replied: 'Yes, absolutely.'
The health secretary also said CCGs should be responsible for dealing for hospital deficits. He said: 'At the moment, PCTs are responsible for everything. So if the hospital was going bust it was the PCT's problem. In the future, if a hospital is going bust, it's not the CCG's problem, it's Monitor's problem. Your responsibility is if you have the resources, to get the services you need. You are not there to fund the deficits of provider organisations.'