Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) were created following the Health and Social Care Act in 2012, and replaced Primary Care Trusts on 1 April 2013. They are clinically-led statutory NHS bodies responsible for the planning and commissioning of health care services for their local area. As of 1 April 2020, following a series of mergers, there are 135 CCGs in England.
Commissioning is about getting the best possible health outcomes for the local population. This involves assessing local needs, deciding priorities and strategies, and then buying services on behalf of the population from providers such as hospitals, clinics, community health bodies, etc. It is an ongoing process. CCGs must constantly respond and adapt to changing local circumstances. They are responsible for the health of their entire population, and measured by how much they improve outcomes.
We have published a number of case study reports showing how clinical commissioners are making a positive difference to their local patients and populations.
The commissioning system is continually evolving. We represent our members’ views in national debates on the future of commissioning by producing policy briefings and influencing documents.
One of our early influencing documents was Local solutions to national challenges (2015), which put forward a series of key “asks” to give clinical commissioners the freedoms and flexibilities they need to make even more of a difference in transforming healthcare locally. Read more.
Our publication The future of commissioning (2016) set out our vision for the future of clinical commissioning, based on feedback from our members.
We followed up our 2017 publication with a joint publication with NHS Providers, Driving forward system working (2018), which examined the changing relationship between commissioners and providers in the context of system working. Read more.
CCGs work with closely with NHS England, which has three roles in relation to them:
As local authorities are responsible for public health, CCGs work closely with them through health and wellbeing boards. They work together to achieve the best possible outcomes for the local community by developing a joint needs assessment and strategy for improving public health.
Commissioning support units (CSUs) help provide support and services for CCGs such as finance, HR, data management, or contracting. CCGs can buy services from CSUs or to carry them out in-house, whichever they feel is most efficient and appropriate. CSUs are procured by CCGs via the NHS England Lead Provider Framework.