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31 commissioning groups sign landmark deal with private firms to provide ‘organisational support’

Clinical commissioning groups representing several thousand GPs across London have signed a multi-million pound deal with private consultants handpicked by NHS bosses to help support the rollout of GP commissioning.

The £7m landmark deal has seen 31 CCGs sign contracts for a programme of ‘intensive organisational support' for commissioning from the likes of KPMG, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Capita and McKinsey, which has formed a joint partnership with the RCGP's Centre for Commissioning and consultancy Ashridge Alliancce to advise CCGs ahead of authorisation.

NHS London said all 38 of the capital's pathfinders were expected to sign up to the ‘development framework' within weeks, and that £3.7m had been allocated for ‘leadership training' for managers and clinicians.

The list of approved commissioning partners, which also includes Ernst and Young, Capsticks Solictors, Binder Dijker Otte, and Entrusted Health Partnership, was drawn up by NHS London after a competitive tender designed to provide CCGs with assistance in organisational development, leadership training, strategy, finance and market analysis. 

The consultants will offer CCGs coaching, leadership plans, resources and how-to guides, 360 degree feedback, self-assessment tools and organisational development plans to assess their readiness for authorisation.

The move significantly boosts the private sector's stake in advising GP commissioners, after Pulse first revealed earlier this year that dozens of CCGs had enlisted the support of McKinsey and Pricewaterhouse Coopers with QIPP, budget holding and governance.

NHS London said the framework would leave CCGs in ‘a better position' when they take on full responsibility in 2013, by giving clinicians ‘the confidence and skills they will need to commission high quality care,' while also ensuring they keep ‘a tight grip on performance and quality of services'.

The programme has been funded from London's Multi Professional Education and Training (MPET) budget, at a cost of £75,000 per pathfinder, plus 40p per patient. NHS London said the funding could only have been spent on the training and development of clinicians and so will not affect delivery of frontline services.

Dr Howard Freeman, assistant medical director at NHS London, chair of the Londonwide GP commissioning council, and a GP in Tooting, said: ‘Clinicians involved have recognised from the start their need for support over and above that given by PCTs to help commissioning groups develop.'

‘They have worked with NHS London to tailor an organisational development framework specific to their needs and are now making excellent use of the skilled providers they can access.'

Hannah Farrar, director of strategy and commissioning development at NHS London, said: ‘CCGs must become strong, strategic and accountable bodies able to manage health budgets and prioritise resources. 

‘Much of this expertise is available within the NHS, but some support is needed from outside organisations with renowned management expertise, as was common in the past. This will enable London's NHS to keep a tight grip on performance and quality of services whilst giving clinicians the support they need to commission health services in the future.'