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Commissioning board promises CCGs a lighter planning 'ask'

Clinical commissioning groups will need to report only a “minimum” set of quality, performance and finance information to the centre to support the NHS planning process, they have been told by the NHS Commissioning Board.

The board’s chief operating officer Ian Dalton is currently drawing up proposals for the 2013-14 planning process. They are expected to be confirmed in the next two months.

Planning has previously been driven by the NHS Operating Framework and the checking of detailed plans by national NHS managers, strategic health authorities and primary care trusts.

If the top level disagrees with them - for example about amount of activity or waiting times – they have been able to refuse to sign off plans and order them to be changed.

HSJ understands the commissioning board and its local arms will not have authority to refuse to sign off plans. There will also be no detailed regional scrutiny of local plans in future, and plans will not be drawn up at regional level, as they have been by SHAs.

However, Mr Dalton told HSJ the board may need to have “discussion with some CCGs concerning the contribution of their plans to the position of the wider NHS”, specifically to ensure they will collectively meet the government’s annual mandate.

One local commissioning board source said they believed in effect the board would be able to reject or approve CCG plans, and the process for 2013-14 would in practice be similar to previous years.

However Mr Dalton said there would be a “different planning model” for the new system. He said the board would ask CCGs to “tell us what its plans are around a minimum amount of information”, described as a “national ask”.

He said: “We would need to be able to get a sense that minimum would be delivered and local planning was being progressed in a way we can understand.”

The minimum is likely to include indicators from the NHS Outcomes Framework, Commissioning Outcomes Framework and NHS Constitution, which includes key waiting times indicators.

Mr Dalton said detailed plans for finance, activity and workforce – all closely linked to efficiency savings – would have to be developed “locally, led by the CCGs”. But he said it had not yet been decided whether they would have to be reported nationally.

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