Expert predicts CCGs are doomed

CCG News A health expert has predicted that the failings of CCGs will see them replaced after only two years by a more effective system of commissioning healthcare services.

Kieran Walshe, Professor of Health Policy Management at Manchester Business School, told the BBC 4’s Today programme that there are no real benefits to GP-led commissioning and accused the Government of being obsessed with this approach.

“This is the most recent version of GP-led commissioning,” he said. “None of them have worked very well. The research suggests there aren’t really great benefits in GP-led commissioning, so why this Government is embarking upon essentially doing the same thing is very hard to follow.”

Professor Walshe said the UK should follow the commissioning models adopted across Europe to get better value for money. He claimed that larger organisations instead of smaller commissioning groups are in a better position to leverage better deals for patients.

“GP commissioning groups are smaller than the old PCTs and are going to be like ‘corner shop commissioners’ – who gets better value for money? A corner shop or a supermarket?” he said.

“The change in all of this which is really interesting is the creation of the NHS Commissioning Board and its local area teams. That’s commissioning at scale. They’re going to be dealing with around 40% of the budget and they will be the driving force in this. In two years’ time I suspect we’ll be back sitting around a table saying ‘CCGs haven’t worked. What shall we put in their place?’ But the scale of commissioning by the NHS Commissioning Board may have some future.”

Dr Michael Dixon, NHS Alliance Chair and acting president NHS Clinical Commissioners, argued that Professor Walsh’s prediction was inaccurate and GP-led commissioning will see improved standards of care. “The benefits [of CCGs] are that doctors and nurses that actually see patients make the decisions as to what needs to happen,” he said.

“The Nuffield Trust report showed only last week that money continues to go into hospitals and not into primary care services. What we need to do is to turn that around.”