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Moving on at pace – Barbara Hakin

Preparations for the new commissioning world continue at a great pace and life seems no less hectic.

Much of my time over the past few weeks has been taken up interviewing for Commissioning Support Service Managing Directors.  The successful appointees were announced last week, and we are now into a second recruitment round, which will give senior NHS managers in SHAs and PCTs another chance to apply, but will also be wider, and including ‘headhunting’ managers from the NHS provider sector.  It is my view that the best candidates will have “gravitas and humility”.   I truly believe that the best people for most of these jobs are senior NHS managers who can demonstrate commercial acumen and an innovative approach.

We have also decided to confirm that the 23 CSSs agreed at checkpoint 2 will proceed through 2013/14. All 23 are undoubtedly viable and CCGs need certainty about contracts. The precise size and management arrangements of the 23 will be determined as we move through the next few months and service level agreements with CCGs are signed.

We are also, of course, currently focusing on Wave 1 authorisation and I am very pleased to say that we have received applications and supporting evidence from all 35 of the CCGs who agreed to submit.

Additionally, we have now published a draft guide for assessors undertaking the desk top review of CCG applications.  This guidance is intended to accompany Clinical commissioning group authorisation: Guide for applicants and should be used in conjunction with that document.

Meanwhile, our work on the underpinning themes and rules is still as busy.  The Health and Social Care Act 2012 sets out the high-level framework for the establishment of CCGs and provides for regulations to set out more specific provisions. The NHS (Clinical Commissioning Groups) Regulations 2012 were laid in Parliament on 26 June and make provision for the membership, names, establishment and governance of CCGs.

A draft code of conduct has also been published which sets out additional safeguards that CCGs are advised to use when commissioning services for which GP practices could be potential providers.  This is intended to both support CCGs in further developing their governance arrangements and to allow wider engagement on the proposals, which the NHS CB can then take into account when publishing statutory guidance later in the year.

I am sure it is no less busy on the front line as practices and CCGs prepare for the future.  As I go round the country, I am amazed at the progress everyone is making and the real improvements being made in patient care. Week by week we are moving ever closer to the new system going live on 1 April 2013 – an exciting prospect, but salutary I think!

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