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Poor management budget will encourage CCGs to ‘go for mediocrity’

CCGs will struggle to commission effectively within the likely financial envelope they will receive for management costs, senior NHS advisors have warned.

In a debate at the NAPC conference in Birmingham, former NHS Confederation chief Professor Nigel Edwards and former Labour health advisor Professor Paul Corrigan agreed that CCGs would struggle to bring about innovation with the forecasted £25-£35 per head in management costs.

Professor Edwards, a Senior Fellow at the King’s Fund and director with the Global Healthcare Group at KPMG, told delegates: ‘It seems challenging compared with what other healthcare systems spend on this type of function. I suspect this is part of the tactic to get CCGs working more federally.’

He also lamented what he viewed as the ‘real prejudice’ against managers, which had led to the view being propogated that managers are ‘a waste of money’.

Professor Edwards said: ‘This has infected the debate. My instinct is you are going to struggle.’

Professor Corrigan said the numbers being proposed for mnagement costs were encouraging CCGs to ‘go for mediocrity’. He said: ‘I think you’re going to struggle. If you want to manage something innovatively it’s much harder, and you need much higher skills which are more expensive. I think you’re being encouraged to go for mediocrity when actually you’ve got to go for something quite startling to suceed.’

Future Forum chair Professor Steve Field, also sitting on the panel, sounded a more optimisitic note, but said GPs would have to innovate and look outside the NHS for support in order to make the most efficient use of their management budget.

Professor Field said: ‘The challenge is to innovate. We have to think very differently, not just PCTs, but we need to look to industry, to models across the world and to the third sector [for support].’ We can’t stay where we are. Collaboration, networks, working together.’