• CCGs will be supported to share management and work on bigger geographies to build “capability and capacity”
  • “Effective” commissioner function will be needed for new care models, says planning guidance

NHS England has said it will work with clinical commissioning groups to help them integrate and work across larger geographical areas to build capacity in the commissioning system.

Planning guidance, published today, says the role of CCGs will evolve as new care models are established across the country, including operating across bigger footprints, and that there is a need for “an effective commissioner function” in the NHS.

The guidance says: “As part of the process for setting up new care models, NHS England will work with CCGs to ensure they have the capability and capacity to operate effectively in the changing provider landscape.

“This will include building on locally led initiatives up and down the country for CCGs to work together across larger geographical footprints, for example, through joint appointments, integrated management and governance arrangements.”

This week three CCGs in Birmingham have announced the appointment of a chair for a new joint board, which is being established to oversee their eventual merger by April 2018.

HSJ also reported that three CCGs in Manchester are planning to merge by April 2017, and establish a “single commissioning function” for health and social care for the city.

The planning guidance says CCGs will “need to consider the opportunities for establishing new care models, the likely timetable for this and the implications for contracting”.

The guidance also says CCGs’ role will evolve as new care models are established, with the boundary between the roles of commissioners and new provider entities shifting.

In future CCGs will act as a “funder”, setting local priorities and incentives, overseeing contracts, and “ensuring the provision of a comprehensive local NHS within the available resources”.