What role can clinical commissioning groups play in ensuring the NHS hits its 75th anniversary in fine fettle?

With 1 April looming, clinical commissioning groups will be focused on their role in improving and transforming services and putting clinical decision making firmly at the heart of the new NHS landscape.

‘The whole NHS landscape is changing and CCGs must continue to develop, manage and monitor new relationships’

CCGs’ first 100 days will set the tone for their performance over the longer term. The NHS faces more fundamental challenges over the next 10 years than ever before. As the NHS reaches its 65-year anniversary this year, what role can CCGs play in delivering the change needed to secure the NHS for its next milestone when the NHS is 75 in 2023?

From the outset, CCGs need to focus on building strong foundations. It is fundamental that CCGs actively link their strategic direction with the actions they take during their first 100 days.

With the Francis report fresh in people’s minds, CCGs need to ensure they keep their focus on care. Patient engagement needs to be embedded from the start and quality assurance processes working well.

CCGs are potentially in a good position to capture the feedback from GPs and patients that could provide an “early warning” system for failures.

Commissioning groups need to get and keep a firm grip on finances. CCGs will have inherited their financial position from PCTs − they need to ensure their QIPP plans are realistic and being delivered. Slippage on savings in the first few months will be difficult to recover later.

The whole NHS landscape is changing and CCGs must continue to develop, manage and monitor new relationships, in particular with third-party suppliers.

‘When the NHS is 75 in 2023, we know it will come under increasing financial pressure and demand will continue to rise’

Setting key performance indicators and having systems in place to monitor services and the relationship will be important. Being clear about the value that services suppliers add should help commissioners maximise the effectiveness of their contracts.

The way CCGs work with partners beyond the health sector and across the wider health economy will no doubt evolve as they build a better understanding of the key pressures facing partners such as local authorities.

Authorisation has been an important step; delivering better healthcare through clinically led commissioning will be about delivering change. When the NHS is 75 in 2023, we know that it will come under increasing financial pressure, and demand on services will continue to rise.

CCGs need to lift their heads from the day-to-day work, look ahead and plan. Their first 100 days will lay the foundations for future success in the long term.

Kalee Talvitie-Brown is a director and Janet Dawson is a healthcare lead partner at PwC