The chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) Council has called for flexibility in the authorisation deadlines of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).
Speaking at a Conservative Health fringe event at the Tory party conference in Birmingham, Dr Mark Porter said CCGs should be authorised as soon as they are in a “state of readiness” and not because of some “artificial date”.
He said the reforms have got off to a “bad start” and described the CCG authorisation process – which is being overseen by the NHS Commissioning Board – as “distinctly rickety”.
“The focus for CCGs has to be that they become robust and successful organisations while also ensuring they have engagement from GPs on the ground and if that takes time to generate, so be it,” he said
“There shouldn’t be an artificial deadline of April 2012 in which there is a stigma attached to CCGs for not achieving authorisation by that point.
“We do need further clarity in some areas and particularly clarity on whether there is any flexibility in CCG authorisation time frames.”
Dr Porter said some CCGs are pushing ahead with authorisation regardless of what the “state of readiness” is on the ground in their local area.
Interim Chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners and Chair of the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC), Dr Charles Alessi agrees that any stigmas placed on unauthorised CCGs post April 2013 would be “inappropriate”.
“The process of CCG authorisation is inevitably not going to be as complete a process as one would like but importantly, it will be good enough and safe enough,” he said.
“Clearly, a balance needs to be struck between speed and safety.”