Clinical commissioners have called on ministers to allow them to access a greater variety of commissioning support, as soon as possible.

Under current plans clinical commissioning groups will have free choice over the support they can purchase from April 2013. However the Clinical Commissioning Coalition, formed last month by the NHS Alliance and National Association of Primary Care, have described arrangement that as “pointless”.

The coalition expressed concern over CCGs being “forced” to accept support from their local primary care trusts in the meantime, and has recommended that commissioners be allowed to access services provided by any PCT cluster.

NAPC chair Dr Johnny Marshall said commissioning support was “fundamental to ensuring the success of clinical commissioning” and that CCGs should have access to support from the NHS, local government, voluntary private sectors. 

NHS Alliance chair Dr Mike Dixon added that forthcoming Department of Health guidance on commissioning support should make it clear that “CCGs can make immediate choices, within the budget available to them, relating to the support they will need”.

He said: “It is pointless saying that CCGs will have free choice of commissioning support from April 2013 but must use existing PCT based support until that time, as that would lead, inevitably, to a situation where current support, good or bad, is the only thing available in the longer term.”