Despite the remaining uncertainty around many aspects of the reforms, the Department of Health has made it clear that now is the time for aspiring Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to start preparing for authorisation.
Over the summer, the Department of Health published its draft authorisation process for CCGs. This sets out the anticipated stages of the process, along with details of six core competencies to be met by aspiring CCGs in order to be authorised.
The first phase of the authorisation process requires immediate attention, as DH ideally wants this to be carried out between October and December 2011. This phase involves an initial risk assessment of the proposed configuration of each CCG, with a view to understanding if the proposed arrangements are likely to meet the requirements of the Bill and, therefore, the requirements for authorisation. Among other things, a proposed CCG must show clear geographical population coverage and sign-up from its member practices.
The Department of Health is expecting to publish the final authorisation process in early 2012 but has said that this should not delay the risk assessment stage. DH is encouraging aspiring CCGs to work with their SHA clusters on the risk assessment phase.
Current indications are that the earliest applications for authorisation could be made next summer, with the first authorisations possibly from October 2012. At this stage, aspiring CCGs should refer to the draft authorisation process document in order to start working on the risk assessment stage this autumn.