Clinical Commissioning Groups

Expert assistance on clinical commissioning issues

The commissioning role of CCGs brings with it a range of challenges for CCGs corporately and for the GPs leading them. It is important that CCGs have a clear understanding of their powers and duties in the new NHS, as well as “new” challenges for GPs associated with leading a public body for the first time, including procurement regulation, statutory consultation and the prospect of having decisions judicially reviewed.

Governance and decision making

CCGs will have to be lean organisations, managed efficiently within their management allocation. However as public bodies CCGs will also need to be able to demonstrate an effective governance structure to ensure that they operate within their statutory powers and comply with their public law duties.

Decisions involving changes to the way healthcare is commissioned and delivered are always sensitive, and rightly attract public scrutiny. Any CCG looking to innovate and promote change in the way services are provided or configured, will need to ensure fulfils its public consultation responsibilities. Commissioners will need to engage with an appropriate range of stakeholders to ensure that it can implement its decisions without legal challenge. The right legal input at the right time can be important. Our governance experts can guide you through these processes to make your decisions in a robust way that will withstand any legal challenge you might face.

Procurement

CCGs must quickly get to grips with procurement law and NHS procurement and competition regulations. The risk of challenge for failing to comply with procurement law and NHS regulation in this area has, unfortunately, never been greater. CCGs will have to comply with the Public Contracts Regulations 2006, as well as overarching EC Treaty Principles, and also relevant NHS specific regulations.  These impact upon the commissioning of healthcare services and the procurement of other goods and services. Our lawyers have significant experience in ensuring the legal compliance necessary for the commissioning  of healthcare services  and in defending commissioning decisions when challenged.

Avoiding the conflict of interest pitfalls

GPs can be both commissioners and providers in the new system. GPs are providers of primary care (commissioned by NHS England), but increasingly more GP partnerships are innovating and looking for ways to provide other secondary care healthcare services that might be commissioned by their CCG.

Each CCG must therefore be alive to the potential for conflicts of interest arising, and be clear about how it intends to deal with any such potential conflicts of interest. Managing such conflicts of interest is a balancing act, balancing robust process and transparency against the need to engage GPs in the decision making process of CCGs.

Our commissioning experts can help you ensure your CCG has the right constitutional arrangements in place to keep your decisions efficient and safe whilst ensuring your members can innovate as healthcare providers.

HR issues

HR could  be a key challenge for CCG leaders, as they work to ensure that over time their organisation has the right balance of the expertise it needs to thrive in the new NHS structure.

Having taken over staff from various different parts of the NHS, a clear understanding of the implications of the TUPE regulations and how they affect staff management is crucial. In addition, strategic HR input will be imperative to achieve lean and agile structures. Expert employment law advice will enable those responsible for HR in your CCG to meet these challenges.

Commissioning quality healthcare services

The Francis Report on the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Inquiry illustrates the significant responsibilities of healthcare commissioners to ensure and have assurance  of high quality care. Our lawyers have been closely involved with the Mid Staffordshire Inquiry throughout, and are ideally placed to help your CCG ensure it fulfils its post-Francis responsibilities .

Summary

In summary, CCGs face a challenging agenda with financial constraints and with the spotlight firmly on the quality of NHS care throughout the country. Our commissioning experts can help guide you through these challenges, helping you to focus on commissioning the services your patients need.