CCGs warned to take responsibility

 Clinical commissioning groups will have to take full responsibility for the actions of commissioning support services, a legal expert has warned.

Bob Senior, Director of Medical Services at legal firm RSM Tenon, told delegates at the Commissioning Show how the Government wants CCGs to be fully accountable for all commissioning decisions.

He said CCGs cannot delegate responsibility and the “buck stops with you” if anything wrong were to happen during the commissioning of services.

CCGs were told how they would need to “do everything better for less money” when they take full control of health budgets next year and were warned to “look carefully at contract negotiations” to avoid any legal issues.

“You will have limited resources,” said Mr Senior. “Make sure you get something out of it that you want, not what they try to impose. This is your responsibility, your funding, your contract.”

Mr Senior also revealed how smaller CCGs are already struggling to deal with patient management costs and were cutting GP involvement as a result.

He told delegates how one commissioning group in the Midlands had reduced the number of doctors on its board from six to two to trim costs.

Developing commissioning groups, he said, are struggling to cope with the money allocated for patient management. “You can’t do everything you want in a small local CCG so as a result CCGs are generally becoming bigger than they originally hoped for,” he said. “The smaller CCGs are finding that £25 per head is too tight to do anything like the GP involvement they hoped for.”