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Ex-minister warns GP groups could struggle

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Clinical commissioning groups will struggle to challenge large “big beast” hospital providers to reshape services, former health minister Lord Darzi has said.

Health reporting HSJ and LGC logo

Lord Darzi, who was a minister under Gordon Brown and continues to advise the current government on health, made the comments at a conference held by the think tank Reform.

He said successive generations of NHS commissioners had been weak partly because of repeated reorganisations, LGC’s sister title Health Service Journal reported.

Lord Darzi said they had repeatedly changed “the anatomy of the NHS rather than its physiology”. He said it damaged the service’s ability to take up and spread innovation.

He said CCGs, like primary care trusts, would not have the maturity to challenge “the big beasts” such as Imperial College Healthcare Trust, where he is a surgeon and chair of the Institute of Global Health Innovation.

Lord Darzi asked: “[in the NHS] We have individual innovators but how do you create a system that will facilitate or encourage the adoption or diffusion of that innovation?”

“The payers [have been] called PCGs [primary care groups], PCTs and now CCGs. They keep changing their names but they have never really had the maturity to actually challenge…a big gorilla or a big beast.”

Lord Darzi publicly backed the government’s controversial Health Act during its passage through Parliament because, he said, uncertainty created by its delay was damaging to the NHS.

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