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CCG committee law to improve joint working


8 August 2014

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Proposed changes to the law will allow clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to form joint committees, with one CCG able to make decisions for the group. 
The amendments were suggested as the 2012 Health and Social Care Act did not include provisions for CCGs to create binding decision making bodies between themselves or with NHS England. 
A document accompanying the proposed legislative change states that CCGs have “struggled to deal with patients specific funding requests due to an inability to fully share resources”. 

Proposed changes to the law will allow clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to form joint committees, with one CCG able to make decisions for the group. 
The amendments were suggested as the 2012 Health and Social Care Act did not include provisions for CCGs to create binding decision making bodies between themselves or with NHS England. 
A document accompanying the proposed legislative change states that CCGs have “struggled to deal with patients specific funding requests due to an inability to fully share resources”. 
The document also claims this has had a “profound effect” on how decisions on services spanning areas are made. 
The Department of Health believes the change will facilitate more effective commissioning, while “reducing the administrative burden on CCGs and NHS England”. 
However, a letter from Healthwatch England chair Anna Bradley revealed concerns that CCGs would “club together”. 
The letter, which was sent to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, claims that such arrangements would undermine Healthwatch’s statutory role of local scrutiny and accountability. 
The letter reads: “Local Healthwatch have escalated concerns to us about the transparency and accountability of decision making and the effect it is having on their ability to carry out their statutory functions.” 
Bradley has called for  CCGs to have the duty “act within existing local accountability mechanisms” and “have due regard to existing local agreed priorities and plans”. 
Guidance should also be issued which places a “requirement on CCGs to enhance their public engagement and involvement when working in collaborations or under joint commissioning arrangements  ,” she said. 
Steve Kell, co-chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners rejected the need for further statutory or mandatory top-down requirements or reorganisation of CCGs.
He said: “Having a joint committee doesn’t take away any of the statutory responsibilities of… patient and public engagement.
“CCGs still need to ensure they have strong transparent and accountable patient and population engagement in their plans, through Healthwatch and local CCG mechanisms.”

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