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Councils call for primary care commissioning role

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Councils in London have asked to be given greater involvement in the commissioning of primary care.

London Councils, which represents the capital’s 32 boroughs, has written to NHS England calling for local authorities to have a bigger role in several ways.

The letter, shared with HSJ, comes as NHS England examines bids from most clinical commissioning groups to “co-commission” general practice, which the national organisation is responsible for.

London Councils chair Jules Pipe said in the letter to NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens that local government “has a positive role to play in the development of [co-commissioning] plans”.

Councillor Pipe said primary care was a “critical component of boroughs’ ambitions for integrated health and care services” and had “knock-on implications” for social care and public health.

He said co-commissioning was “clearly one important lever for bring about a transformation of primary care in the capital” but added: “[For] solutions to be really strong and able to secure widespread local engagement and support, they must be shaped by local authorities as well as CCGs.”

Councillor Pipe said that “as a minimum” local authorities should be able to approve co-commissioning arrangements before they are signed off by NHS England.

His letter said: “The need to avoid conflicts of interests in CCGs taking on co-commissioning responsibilities for primary care is widely recognised, and we believe that boroughs and/or health and wellbeing boards could play a key role in overcoming this risk.

“We would like the opportunity for boroughs to explore with their CCGs way in which they might be partners in primary care co-commissioning.”

An NHS England spokesman said the body would respond to the letter in due course.

The Liberal Democrats have proposed in recent weeks that GP services should be commissioned by health and wellbeing boards, in a recent policy paper outlining the party’s likely direction in the run-up to the general election. The Labour party has also said it wants health and wellbeing board to have more power over health.

 

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