Fifteen clinical commissioning groups will be subject to close oversight and control by the NHS Commissioning Board as they take over budgets next month.
The board last week announced all CCGs had been authorised, with the completion of its fourth wave of approval decisions, LGC’s sister title Health Service Journal reported.
The fourth wave of approvals saw the board issuing legal directions to seven CCGs. They give it specific powers over the groups – generally to approve their finance and service plans – and allow it to demand information from them.
Those given directions in the most recent wave include Basildon and Brentwood CCG and Thurrock CCG, both in Essex.
Their directions cover the CCGs’ contract with Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust, which has been the subject of long running quality concerns. They dictate that the commissioning board will be able to “undertake any action it considers necessary, including ensuring cooperation with other regulatory bodies such as Monitor and the Care Quality Commission, in respect of ensuring that patient safety is maintained”.
As well as imposing legal directions, the board ordered two Essex practices to join CCGs, after they refused to sign up of their own accord. One was ordered to join Basildon and Brentwood CCG and one Thurrock CCG.
The other commissioning groups issued with legal directions in wave four are: Enfield CCG and Croydon CCG, both of which are likely to face financial problems; Waltham Forest CCG; East Surrey CCG; and High Weald Lewes Havens CCG.
Of all England’s 211 CCGs, 15 have legal directions.
Those with legal directions or with lots of conditions will be subject to closer attention.