NHS England has instructed all clinical commissioning groups they must go to the market to procure a number of support services rather than bring them in house.

  • NHS England instructs CCGs to go the market for support services rather than bring them in house
  • Letter comes after groups in the north were told to collectively procure services from the lead provider framework
  • NHS Clinical Commissioner says CCGs “should be free to determine what commissioning support they need”

In a letter from director of commissioning support services strategy Bob Ricketts last week, CCGs were told they would be “required” to procure their core business intelligence and GP IT services from NHS England’s lead provider framework for support services “to a standard national minimum specification”.

Steve Kell

CCGs are ‘statutory bodies in their own right’, Steve Kell said

The letter, seen by HSJ, added that any CCG looking to bring these services in house “will need to demonstrate that they have a comparable level of resilience, capacity and capability to [lead provider framework] providers” and “be able to demonstrate value for money and how they would meet information governance standards”.

This latest intervention comes a day after NHS England told CCGs in the Yorkshire and Humber, and North West regions to collectively procure these services from the lead provider framework, and warned they would be liable to pay for additional stranded costs if they brought them in house.

HSJ understands some groups are seeking advice on whether NHS England has the authority to force CCGs to act jointly, or go to the market for services that they are able to provide.

NHS Clinical Commissioners co-chair Steve Kell, who also chairs Bassetlaw CCG, said groups “should be free to determine what commissioning support they need and where they procure it from”.

“CCGs are statutory bodies in their own right, clinically led and with robust governing bodies to ensure they achieve the best outcomes for their patients and use resources effectively,” he said. 

Dr Kell added that CCGs “are working extremely hard to resolve issues raised by the changes in commissioning support, and we must not underestimate the amount of time and effort this requires”.

“What is important is that CCGs are able to maintain their focus on commissioning and population outcomes,” he said. 

NHS England has been approached for comment.