Clinical commissioning groups have become concerned about the burden of being involved with ‘system resilience groups’, which are expected to oversee efforts to clear waiting lists and ease winter pressures.

Proposals for the groups were laid out in NHS England papers published in June, which described them as an extension of the urgent care working group model. These were created last year to oversee efforts to ease emergency care pressures over the winter period.

However, the groups will be expected to take on a beefed up role covering elective care, according to the June guidance. They should also include representatives from CCGs, healthcare providers and local authorities, it added.

The groups will be expected to “plan for the capacity required to ensure delivery, and oversee the coordination and integration of services”, the guidance stated.

CCG leaders told HSJ that while such forums could be constructive in some regions, they were proving a “distracting” bureaucratic burden for others.

Steve Kell, co-chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners, said: “The concept of system resilience groups themselves is not a bad thing but the top-down guidelines are not helpful.

“CCGs are already doing [much of what the groups are set up to do].

“This is additional bureaucracy at a time when capacity is decreasing and CCGs need to be given the space to run their services. CCGs should be looking out towards their patients, not up towards NHS England.”

Dr Kell’s comments come after several CCG sources raised concerns about the model with HSJ.

One senior CCG leader said NHS England was “riding rough shod” over CCGs’ legitimacy by “creating a CCG over a CCG”.

Although £350m worth of winter pressures funding has been allocated in principle to CCGs for 2014-15, this will only be unlocked when their system reliance group plans are signed off.

Some groups have also been involved in coordinating efforts to clear the planned treatment backlog over the summer, a drive funded by £250m from the Department of Health.

Sarah Pinto-Duschinsky, director of NHS operations and delivery, said: “It’s good news the local NHS in many areas is working with hospitals, the ambulance service and local government to provide seamless and effective care for patients. However, we know this isn’t the case in every part of the country. 

“It is only right we ensure any extra funding is used to ensure patients get the care they deserve.” 

CCGs were expected to submit plans for the groups by the end of last month.

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