MPs have proposed major amendments to the Health Bill to increase the accountability of commissioning organisations.
In its second report on commissioning, the Commons health committee said consortia should be renamed “NHS commissioning authorities” and adhere to new rules on board membership.
The report said the boards’ members should include representatives from secondary care, nursing, public health and social care, an elected member of a local authority and an independent chair.
In order that GPs retain their “leading role”, the committee said they should be in the majority, which would mean boards of at least 13 members.
Commissioners would be required to have an accountable chief executive and a finance director and would also have to hold public board meetings.
The report said the plans to “significantly strengthen” governance of commissioning bodies would mean it would be possible to lessen the proposed oversight role of the NHS Commissioning Board.
It would also mean health and wellbeing boards “should be dropped”.
Health committee chair and former health secretary Stephen Dorrell said the proposals were “not minor tweaking”.
With a political row leading to suggestions that concessions may be made to the bill, Mr Dorrell said the report contained “practical proposals to strengthen [it] and make it better able to meet the government’s objectives”. He said it was a “key point” that if commissioning bodies were to be responsible for large amounts of public money, they should reflect “standards of good public sector governance”.
He added the makeup of boards could be prescribed in primary or secondary legislation.
Mr Dorrell welcomed indications to the committee coming from the Department of Health that the authorisation process will have the principle of “earned autonomy” rather than “assumed liberty”.