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DH commissioning lead’s group ‘red-rated’ and told to merge

Exclusive A flagship clinical commissioning group (CCG) which includes the practice of the Department of Health’s national clinical commissioning lead has been ‘red-rated’ by its strategic health authority and told to merge with its neighbours in order to gain authorisation.

Wirral NHS Alliance, a first wave pathfinder which cover six practices, including Dr James Kingsland’s, has received a letter from NHS North West cluster saying that the SHA did not consider it met ‘current expected standards’ and that it should consider changing their configuration to be part of an ‘effective CCG’.

The 32,000-patient CCG is contesting the decision, with chair Dr Gillian Francis writing to decline the offer and advise the SHA that they plan to continue on their pathfinder progress.

Writing for Pulse’s commissioning section, Dr Kingsland said he had been ‘surprised’ by the SHA’s decision.

‘The SHA review deemed us as a ‘red rated’ CCG based almost singularly on our geographic fit rather than considering our affinity or achievements to date,’ he said.

‘We have a vibrant clinical working group which has already begun to realign community nursing services with constituent practices, has decommissioned an unsuccessful service for patients with mild to moderate mental health problems and gone through a procurement exercise to appoint a new provider for these patients from a different region. We are also showing around a 3% underspend.’ 

An NHS North of England spokesperson said: ‘The risk assessments have been made against the specific tests outlined by the Department of Health, which have been developed as a result of the likely contents of the Health and Social Care Bill. Similar processes are happening across England.’

Dr David Jenner, a GP in Cullompton, Devon and an NHS Alliance executive member, said: ‘It would seem that there is at the very least a disconnect between what the DH is being advised to do and what it is doing.’

‘For some GPs it’s wake up and smell the coffee. It’s very difficult for small CCGs to get authorised unless they have extensive pre-agreed admin and management arrangements with their neighbours.’

‘They’re also not normally allowing CCG boundaries to cross local authority ones unless they have a compelling narrative such as matching the footprint of an acute hospital.’


Click here to read Dr Kingsland’s dispatches from the commissioning frontline