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Commissioning group approval delayed

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Clinical commissioning groups will be authorised a month later than previously planned, the NHS Commissioning Board has announced.

Health reporting HSJ and LGC logo

The extension of the authorisation timetable will allow for extra period of dialogue between CCGs and the board, LGC’s sister publication Health Service Journal reports. Director of commissioning development Dame Barbara Hakin said the change had been requested by CCGs.

It means that the first wave of CCGs will now be authorised in November, rather than October. All subsequent waves will be similarly affected, meaning that the final, fourth wave will not be authorised until February next year.

The change is set out in papers for the commissioning board’s 20 September meeting, which were posted online today.

The papers set out in detail how the authorisation process will work. CCGs will be assessed initially by the board’s local area teams, whose findings will be reviewed by a “moderation panel” to ensure consistent application of the authorisation process across the country. A separate “conditions panel” will apply any checks or limits on authorisation, before the process is signed off by the board.

In a new development, CCGs will be notified of the findings of the board’s conditions panel, and will be given two weeks to comment and provide any new evidence that would remove the need to have conditions imposed. This extra stage recognises that progress may have been made since they were assessed, and will “minimise the number of conditions that need to be set”.

Dame Barbara told HSJ that CCGs would receive final authorisation at the commissioning board’s monthly meetings – however the extra two weeks of dialogue will cause CCGs to miss the meeting originally planned, delaying sign-off until the following month.

However, she argued: “In terms of the day to day running of the CCGs I don’t think this is material.” She added that, as authorisation was an “iterative process” with regular communication between the board and CCGs, commissioners would have fair warning of what the final arrangements were likely to be well in advance of final sign-off.

Dame Barbara said she thought the merger between two Birmingham CCGs, announced earlier this week, would be a “one-off”, although one more “absolute exception” might take place between now and April. Otherwise, the configuration of CCGs would remain stable over the coming months.

But, she added: “I don’t know what will happen beyond authorisation.”

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