The number of clinical commissioning groups in England is set to reduce, making them increasingly remote from GP practices, MPs have warned.
A new report from a committee of MPs warns of the challenges faced by CCGs as they are given new responsibilities by NHS England. The organisation envisages integrated care systems managing services across all of England by 2021. These will be overseen by CCGS, commissioning their services.
CCGs were set up to be run by GPs – but they could “lose touch” with their local populations as they become large, according to the House of Commons public accounts committee.
The MPs warn that CCG performance also needs to improve. Currently 24 CCGs are rated as being at risk of failing – or already failing. The report says that already only 28% of practices believe they can influence CCG decisions – and calls for measures to improve GP input into decisions.
Committee chair Meg Hillier said: “Time and again our committee has seen reforms that are driven by good intentions fail to result in positive outcomes. That fate must not befall the latest changes to commissioning in the NHS, which need to deliver frontline benefits, safeguard public money and avoid further muddling lines of accountability at local level.
“This will be a challenge. NHS England rated the performance of four in every 10 CCGs as either inadequate or requiring improvement last year. Standards must improve significantly as CCGs take on the commissioning of services across larger populations – a change which runs the risk of them losing focus on the particular healthcare needs of local people.”