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Single Operating Model for Commissioning Primary Care

The NHS Commissioning Board Authority has published the single operating model for the commissioning of primary care services within the NHS.

The new system will come into effect from 1 April 2013. At this date, the NHS Commissioning Board will take on many of the current functions of PCTs with regard to the commissioning of primary care health services, as well as some nationally-based functions currently undertaken by the Department of Health.

Securing excellence in commissioning primary care describes the system by which the NHS Commissioning Board will use the £12.6bn the NHS spends on commissioning primary care to secure the best possible outcomes for patients.  In time, through this new system, the NHSCB will also develop the future strategy for primary care.

The benefits the Board Authority hopes to achieve from this change are:

  • Greater consistency and fairness in access and provision for patients, with an end to unjustifiable variations in services and a reduction in health inequalities
  • Better health outcomes for patients as primary care clinicians are empowered to focus on delivering high quality, clinically-effective, evidence-based services
  • Greater efficiencies in the delivery of primary care health services through the introduction of standardised frameworks and operating procedures.

It is a system change which will have an impact on patients, providers and their teams, and commissioners, and the Board Authority has systematically taken 18 months to research, develop and consult upon the proposals to ensure they are practical and workable. It has worked closely with current commissioners, patient representatives, PCT medical directors, dental, pharmaceutical and optometric advisors, and key national, regional and local stakeholder and professional bodies to seek to understand and preserve the best of the current system, learn from good practice, and ensure that the system changes will be managed effectively.

The document is based on three guiding principles:

  • People should have access to continuously improving, high quality primary care provision regardless of where they live
  • The commissioning system should be clinically led and professionally managed to balance the needs of local communities within a single operating system
  • There should be consistency in the contractual relationship between providers and the NHS Commissioning Board as the commissioner.

Over the next few months, local area teams, which will be responsible for the delivery of the new system, will be appointed as will central and regional primary care commissioning teams.  CCGs, commissioning support services and local authorities will start to assume their future roles and responsibilities. This document will provide a guide these teams and bodies as they establish and/or further develop their organisations.

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