Health Select Committee's report

Yesterday saw the publication of the Health Select Committee's report on commissioning under NHS reforms. It suggests several ways in which GP commissioning could be improved including giving other health professionals a role so that commissioning decisions are taken by a range of health professionals. Here is a link to the reportThe most significant proposals include:

Local Commissioning Boards

Local NHS commissioners are statutory bodies responsible for a large proportion of public expenditure; they should be required to comply with the highest standards of governance and accountability.

In order to satisfy this standard each commissioner should be required to establish a Board where GPs should form a majority of membership but other places should be reserved for:

  • A professional Social Care representative
  • An elected member (a councilor or directly-elected Mayor) nominated by the local authority
  • A nursing representative
  • A representative of hospital medicine
  • A public health expert nominated by the Director of Public Health

Scrutiny and the patient's voice

The Committee believes that local authority scrutiny of health services should continue and welcomes the extension of local authorities' health scrutiny powers.

MPs recommend that NHS commissioners should be given a legal obligation to consult Healthwatch and that Healthwatch should have a legal obligation to consult with patients and patient representative bodies.

Accountable executives

The Committee recommends that all NHS commissioners should have a Chief Executive and a Finance Director both of whom should be members of the Board.

Independent Chair

The Committee recommends that all NHS Commissioners should have an independent chair appointed by the NHS National Commissioning Board.

Meetings and Papers

The Committee recommends that the Boards of NHS Commissioners should be required to meet in public publish their papers and comply with the rules of the Committee on Standards in Public Life with regard to conflicts of interest amongst board members.

Accountability to the NHS Commissioning Board

The Committee recommends that NHS Commissioners should be held to account by the new NHS National Commissioning Board through a clear system of authorization and assurance.

A new name

The Committee concludes that the Government's plan to call local commissioning bodies GP Consortia is misleading. It proposes that these bodies should be referred to as NHS Commissioning Authorities.

Health and Wellbeing Boards

The Committee believes that its own proposals would mean that there is no need to proceed with the establishment of Health and Wellbeing Boards.

Commissioning of Primary Care

The Committee also believes that its proposals would mean that there is no need to separate the commissioning of primary and secondary care - as currently proposed in the bill. The Committee proposes that NHS Commissioning Authorities should be responsible for commissioning primary secondary and community healthcare as well as for creating robust links with social care.

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