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GP commissioners to get powers to rate Commissioning Board

Exclusive: The power of clinical commissioning groups will be bolstered under plans to allow them to authorise each other and hold the NHS Commissioning Board to account, Pulse can reveal.

The move comes after primary care leaders expressed concerns over the potential for ‘layers of bureaucracy' from the NHS Commissioning Board, and will allow CCGs to rate the body on how much autonomy they are granting new bodies.

Pulse also understands that commissioning groups will also be tasked with helping to authorise each other to make the process more GP-led.

Last month, the clinical commissioning coalition of the NAPC and NHS Alliance warned the design of the NHS Commissioning Board hinted at a new system that was merely designed under ‘the old ‘footprint' and clinical commissioners had real concerns that they will be ‘suffocated, instead of liberated'.

But a sources close to discussions, said they understood CCGs were set be given a greater say in judging how much freedom they have been granted by the Board.

One source, who wished to remain anonymous, told Pulse: ‘It is likely one of the key measures of gauging whether the National Commissioning Board is fulfilling its function is to assess how autonomous the CCGs have become. This will ensure we get the correct behaviours and dependencies in the system.'

Dr Michael Dixon, chair of NHS Alliance and a GP in Cullompton, Devon, also said he understood that ‘there will be CCG input in the authorisation process.'

‘Whether that will be someone from a CCG sitting in on the panel, or whether that will be sharing the assessment with a neighbouring CCG or CCG leader, we don't know,' he said.  

‘But I think we can be confident that it won't be a unilateral National Commissioning Board decision. We need to see some significant overtures from the NHSCB that CCGs will be masters of their own destiny.'

A Department of Health spokesman told Pulse it would hold ultimate responsibility for monitoring the NHS Commissioning Board's performance, but added: ‘We will draw on a range of sources of information, including the views of CCGs and other organisations.'

The Department remained tight lipped on how CCGs would help authorise their peers, but said: ‘The NHS Commissioning Board Authority will publish draft guidance on authorisation in spring 2012.'