Bids to co-commission primary care have been submitted by around 180 of England’s 211 clinical commissioning groups, HSJ can reveal.

A spokeswoman for NHS England told HSJ: “We have received a significant number of expressions of interest from CCGs.

“These will now undergo a robust review and assessment to establish which can be taken forward quickly to begin benefiting local health communities. We will shortly announce which CCGs will be the first to take this forward.”

HSJ understands the number of expressions has not yet been confirmed, but is around 170-180 CCGs.

The news came after NHS England’s director of CCG development, Helen Hirst, told delegates at today’s Commissioning Show that the majority of CCGs had shown an interest in co-commissioning primary care.

Under the Health Act 2012 reforms, responsibility for commissioning primary care and specialised services was handed to NHS England, while CCGs were given responsibility for most acute and community services.

However, last month NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens announced that he would be inviting CCGs to apply for responsibility to co-commission primary care services. The deadline for submissions was 20 June.

The move divided opinion among health leaders.

Channd Nagpaul, chair of the BMA’s GP committee said: “We need to make sure in the process of this that we don’t end up with restructuring at the expense of organic change and engagement of GP practices.”

At the body’s annual conference of local medical committees, GP representatives voted against primary care commissioning.

In a statement issued after this story was initially published, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said he was concerned about the development. He said: “It is unbelievable that the NHS is being reorganised one year after the last one. No wonder the NHS doesn’t know if it’s coming or going.

“Now GPs are being asked to commission services from themselves. It has the potential to be a conflict of interest writ large.

“The government must call a debate in Parliament - it raises major concerns about proper accountability.”

  • This story was amended after publication after NHS England corrected information it had provided