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Centralist CCGs ‘too complacent’ about GP engagement

23 November 2012

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Half of clinical commissioning groups are guilty of being too “complacent” in engaging member practices, the DH’s clinical commissioning network lead has claimed.

Dr James Kingsland said the “small number” of GP enthusiasts on CCGs are “struggling” to get the wider GP and public population involved at scale.

“It doesn’t feel that GPs think of themselves as part of CCGs when talking to different communities,” he said.

Dr Kingsland, who is also president of the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC), said this could be down to a feeling of unwarranted “complacency”.

“If we get 211 CCGs authorised in such a way where we are confident these groups can look after £65m, then there is a feeling of complacency that we have transformed healthcare, when in fact all we have done is created new organisations,” he said.

Dr Kingsland claimed “around half” of the 211 CCGs seeking authorisation are “the new centralists” and are in the midst of “definitely recreating primary care trusts (PCTs)” in setting targets and getting practices to “jump through hoops” and are less concerned with “distributed decision making” among their member practices.

Dr Michael Dixon, interim president of NHS Clinical Commissioners and chair of the NHS Alliance, disagreed with Dr Kingsland’s comments and claimed those CCGs without the “buy-in” of their member practices “are taking measures to remedy that”.

“I don’t agree that CCGs are complacent in engaging GPs into the reforms,” he said.

“Things were never going to be perfect at this stage and Rome wasn’t built in a day – engagement will take time. CCGs will not be able to survive a moment without the support of their practices.”

A spokesperson for the NHS Commissioning Board said: “We are confident that the vast majority of CCGs leaders are engaging meaningfully with their member practices to set up the CCG and that this will develop further over the coming months as they are established and authorised and take up their statutory duties.

”CCG leaders’ engagement with their member practices is closely assessed as part of the authorisation process. Engagement with practices, stakeholders and patients runs through a large proportion of the criteria for authorisation: evidence including surveys, examples of partnership working and comprehensive engagement strategies are assessed in the round to form a clear picture of CCG governing bodies’ current and future engagement activities.”

Dr Kingsland, however, acknowledged the difficulty in “selling” CCGs to grassroots GPs, and said there is a “resistance” in accepting it is good for both them and their patients.