13 September 2011

Championing Clinical Commissioning Groups

The NHS has served the population of this country well and, in terms of the quality of primary care delivered, remains among the leaders in world class provision. However, many things have changed since its inception in 1948, including demography, ageing population with multiple co-morbidities, advances in medicine, and the cost of delivery. The NHS is now at a point in its history where general taxation and the prevailing financial environment will no longer be able to continue to support and advance modern service provision without further development of the policy of clinical commissioning.

To this end, both NAPC and NHS Alliance have now come together, as an informal entity, provisionally known as the Coalition, for the purpose of championing clinical commissioning and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), which are at the centre of the government agenda.

Currently, these NAPC and the NHS Alliance are alone in wholeheartedly supporting the concept of clinical commissioners and, in future, through the establishment of the Coalition, they will become the independent, collective voice of CCGs.

Dr Johnny Marshall, chairman of NAPC, commented: “NAPC and the NHS Alliance have come together at the pivotal time in the history of the NHS to champion clinical commissioning, which will, in future, be the lynchpin, the mainstay of the NHS. We are seeing many obstacles, from all quarters of the NHS and elsewhere, being placed to deter and restrain the successful engagement and operation of CCGs. The Coalition will strive to ensure, through its relationships with government, officials and others, that CCGs are empowered with their local populations to deliver the highest quality to care.”

He added: “We will strive to ensure that CCGs are not overburdened with NHS bureaucracy and red tape and are set free to deliver innovative and population focused services, in short a comprehensive, world class health service. Our strength is in our collective approach, which is dedicated to the cause of improving the health of the population of this country and modernising the NHS through the vehicle of clinical commissioning. It is now the only show in town’.

Dr Mike Dixon, chairman of the NHS Alliance, continued: “The biggest single danger, at present, is that we dot so many i's and cross so many t's and try to please so many people that we end up with a system ‘made by committee’. If this is the case, we risk ending up with a laudable, but unworkable ship, pretty much like the ones we saw before, such as practice based commissioning. I feel concerned, when a CCG leader writes to me and say:- ‘Too often I hear that previously enthusiastic GPs are losing the will to live with all the bureaucracy and top down guidance. It is like PCTs being re-invented’. If CCGs really are the NHS's future, then they should be given a far more dominant role in designing, planning and providing the detail for that future.  If CCGs are to succeed, the whole system will need shaking up. At the moment, it looks more like a system continuing as normal, trying to work out how CCGs fit within it.”



  1. NHS Alliance brings together GP consortia, PCTs, clinicians and managers as the leading organisation in primary care. We are an independent non-political membership organisation proud to be at the forefront of clinically-led commissioning. Its leaders are all dedicated professionals, who represent the Alliance’s diverse membership, working ceaselesslyto meet the challenges facing the NHS today. Find out more at www.nhsalliance.org
  2. The National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) is a non-political, non-profit-making organisation representing and supporting the interests of all its members, both individuals and organisations working in or with primary care. It also offers support through associate membership to those bodies, which provide services to primary care or have other health-related interests. Find out more at www.napc.co.uk
  3. For more information, please email pressoffice@nhsalliance.org or call 07772756674.