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GPs sidelined in authorisation process, says NHS Alliance

Clinical commissioning groups are being ‘pushed to the bottom tier’ of a commissioning hierarchy instead of being at the centre of the Government’s NHS reforms, the NHS Alliance has warned.

NHS Alliance chair Dr Michael Dixon told Practical Commissioning that CCGs were reporting a major ‘change in atmosphere’ since the amendments to the health bill in June and recent announcements such as the draft authorisation procedure outlined last month.

He said: ‘It’s part of a general feeling that power is now being passed back to the centre.’

In a statement, the NHS Alliance called for the CCG authorisation process to be a dialogue rather than an ‘arms’ length assessment’ and insisted there should also be a dialogue in relation to the National Commissioning Board´s roles and responsibilities.

And it also called on bodies, such as the NHS Commissioning Board and PCT clusters, to work with and support CCGs who are not ready to take on budgets – rather than taking over their commissioning responsibilities.

Dr Dixon added: ‘CCGs will play a crucial role in the new NHS and there needs to be a lot more dialogue between them and the centre regarding their authorisation and implementation.’

‘At the moment, it seems that they will be put in a position where other bodies will be telling them what to do, which goes against the government’s commitment to put CCGs at the heart of modernisation plans.’

‘Managing CCGs through PCT clusters, for example, puts CCGs at arms’ length from the National Commissioning Board and its central decision making system.’

‘They seem to be at the periphery and at the bottom tier of the commissioning hierarchy, not at its centre, as they should be. This needs to be a two way process, from the development of the National Commissioning Board downwards and between future CCG leaders and the Department of Health.’

‘This dialogue needs to look at how the whole system will work rather than CCGs being consulted on various aspects of the new system as chosen by the centre.’