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CCG Series: Never-ending winter for Torbay CCG?

CCG Series: Never-ending winter for Torbay CCG?


Dr Derek Greatorex, clinical lead from South Devon and Torbay CCG steps up to the weekly CCG Series platform to talk about integrated care, auspicious omens and a whole host of new acronyms... 

The past year or so has been an eventful one for South Devon and Torbay CCG as an organisation. After a merger between two proto-CCGs, our first aim as an organisation was to get ourselves fit for the authorisation process. This enormous piece of work seemed to fill our waking (and sleeping!) hours, so it was a great relief when we were finally fully authorised with no conditions. 

However, no sooner was one hurdle cleared when a host of others, both national and local, were jostling for position, accompanied by the media frenzy surrounding them: Mid-Staffs and Francis, Section 75 regulations, proposed new GP contract, controversies over the Liverpool Care Pathway, UK falls behind in early death league, GPs profit from health reforms, were notable ones amongst many. The range of responsibilities handed over to us as CCGs seemed to grow on a daily basis e.g. primary care IT, the continuing care claims funding backlog, whilst other areas seemed to be wandering around without a clearly identifiable home.

The philosophy and political motivation underpinning the changes seemed contradictory to many. Many questioned the raison d’être of the reforms – and for some this represented an inexorable creeping privatisation. And yet the word ‘integrated’ (or ‘joined up’) has also emerged as the ‘new kid on the block’. Certainly for my organisation where this has been a driving ambition for many years, this was a welcome shift of emphasis.

The motivation for many GPs now involved in CCGs, including myself, has been to create a more co-ordinated health (and social) care system - something more patient friendly, yet which also recognises the need to involve the patient positively in their own healthcare. The opportunity to be able to influence this was too attractive to be missed, although balancing a CCG chair role with being a practising GP is not an easy task.

Some have argued that as GPs our place is in the consulting room with our patients, not in the rarefied atmosphere of commissioning. And yet despite having to grapple with a new world of acronyms such as CQUIN, QIPP, CIP, RTT, SIRI, AHSN, PenCLAHRC (just a small selection from my last few Inbox emails!), I do believe that we, as clinicians have a role. Not to morph into managers – we have excellent ones already – but to bring our patients’ perspective and indeed our perspective into the commissioning process, to ground it in reality. And I see already in my CCG a relationship, an enthusiasm and excitement to deliver forming between clinicians and managers that I have not observed before.

The sun outside is shining, the wind has fallen and the temperature has hit double figures. Perhaps there is a breath of Spring in the air after all...



If you want to take part in the CCG Series please email 


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