CCGs must involve local GPs in decision-making as services are increasingly commissioned across larger populations, a committee of MPs has warned.
The Public Accounts Committee, which has been scrutinising CCG performance, said in a report published today there is a risk that commissioners will ’lose touch’ with local populations as efforts are made to deliver the NHS’s long-term plan.
The report said this was due to fewer CCGs being required by 2021 – as the long-term plan moves towards integrated care systems instead – meaning those remaining commissioners will become responsible for a larger geographical area.
A study by the King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust found only 28% of GP practices feel they can influence the decisions of CCGs, said the committee in its report.
The PAC has asked NHS England to draw up a plan by the end of the year that will ensure local GPs remain involved in their CCG’s decision-making processes.
The report said: ’There is a risk that CCGs will lose touch with the needs of their local populations as they commission services across larger populations. It is vital that CCGs, in whatever form, understand the needs of their local populations and have good links with local GPs.’
It added: ’When reporting back to us at the end of 2019, NHS England should set out the actions it has taken to ensure that local GPs have input into CCGs’ decisions and that CCGs remain focussed on the needs of local populations as they cover larger populations.’
MP Meg Hillier, chair of the PAC, said: ‘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.’
In its evidence to the committee, NHS England said it had discussed how to maintain local links while commissioning across a larger area with a wide range of stakeholders including GPs, hospitals, and local authorities.
‘NHS England also stated that it was discussing with the British Medical Association and the Royal College of GPs the creation of local GP networks to help plan and reshape services at a local level,’ said the comittee report.
Commenting on the report, NHS Clinical Commissioners chief executive Julie Wood, said: ’The commissioning landscape is undoubtedly evolving but clinical commissioners still have a critical role in transforming health and care for the better.
’Clinical commissioning groups have already been taking strides to work more efficiently and collaboratively across larger footprints whilst maintaining their links to local populations.’
This story was first published on our sister publication Pulse.