CCGs will be required to keep an audit trail of the reasons behind all their commissioning decisions to ensure they are acting in a transparent and non-discriminatory way.
Published for open consultation, DH sector regulation guidance
Read Securing best value for NHS patients: Requirements for commissioners to adhere to good procurement practice and protect patient choice published today (15 August) is said to have established “broad procurement principals” to ensure good commissioning rather than being prescriptive.
The new guidance hopes to enshrine the overarching principle that CCGs must use the providers who are “best capable of meeting patients’ needs and delivering value for money, whether they are from the public, private or voluntary sectors”.
Under the proposals, commissioners will need to demonstrate that they have considered alternative options in determining which providers offer best value.
They will need to keep “appropriate records” of the reasons why they have reached their decisions as it is claimed clear audit trail are “necessary preconditions for holding commissioners to account”.
CCGs will also need to establish a “transparent and non-discriminatory criteria” when determining whether providers qualify for services, appointing providers to frameworks and pre-qualifying providers to bid for contracts.
CCGs will still be required to publish up-to-date records of their contracts on the Government’s ‘supply2health’ procurement portal, the running of which will be taken over by the NHS CB.
“The Health and Social Care Act puts the interests of patients and the public where they belong – at the heart of the NHS,” said Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.
“We need to ensure that their interests are protected and that the health service is doing everything it can to help them, whilst not over burdening the NHS with unnecessary bureaucracy. Commissioning, led by doctors and nurses, can use these principles to secure effective provision of services for their patients.
“That’s why we’ve published these consultations on strengthening sector regulation in the NHS – to seek views on our proposals and whether we need to consider other issues. I would urge stakeholders to take part and feed in their comments and answers. With their help, we can help put the NHS on the side of patients.”
The proposed regulations are said to set the “minimum requirements” for CCGs while the NHS CB is expected to provide separate guidance to CCGs on best practice in procurement.
The NHS CB is said to be currently working with Monitor to produce a choice and competition framework which is designed to help inform commissioners’ decisions.
The consultation on the proposals for sector regulation will end on 26 October 2012 and the regulations will be heard in Parliament in January 2013 before coming into effect in April 2013.