Clinical commissioning group representatives have called on NHS England to support CCGs taking a greater role in primary care, following their first major survey of the organisations.

NHS Clinical Commissioners yesterday published the results of its survey of CCG leaders’ on working with NHS England. Overall, they were positive.

However, asked whether NHS England worked effectively with them as commissioner of primary care, 55 per cent disagreed and only 19 per cent agreed.

In a letter to NHS England chair Sir Malcolm Grant, NHS Clinical Commissioners said many group leaders believe primary care responsibility should “sit with CCGs”.

The letter, shared with HSJ, said: “This is an area which is ripe for change. We know that CCGs are frustrated by the lack of progress and… there is a growing sense that movement on this is both necessary and possible. We would urge you to support such a change and ensure that CCGs are given both the responsibility and the resources they need.”

NHS England has previously indicated it is considering how it could work more closely with CCGs on primary care, but has not made it clear whether or how it would hand over responsibility in an area.

The survey involved 272 CCG chairs, chief officers and chief finance officers.

Blackpool CCG chief clinical officer Amanda Doyle, co-chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners’ leadership group, said the division of responsibility of out of hospital care “isn’t really working”.

She said: “We need to work around the issues… about conflict of interest and allow CCGs to have a formalised role in commissioning primary care.”

The survey found that, overall, CCG leaders were positive about relationships with NHS England: 64 per cent agreed their local area team worked effectively with them, while 21 per cent disagreed. Most leaders were positive about the body’s work in assuring, supporting and developing them.

However, it discovered problems in relation to NHS England’s commissioning of specialised services.

Asked whether they agreed it worked effectively with them in this area, 54 per cent disagreed and 15 per cent agreed.

NHS Clinical Commissioners, which represents the majority of CCGs, called for the specialised commissioning “structure [to] be better joined up”.

NHS England national director of commissioning Ros Roughton told HSJ she was pleased CCGs were positive overall. She said her organisation would use the survey findings in its own organisational development, and in some cases in developing policy, such as for primary care commissioning. HSJ will publish further details of plans in relation to primary care in the near future.

In relation to specialised commissioning, Ms Roughton said the NHS England staff responsible were working on better engagement with CCGs.