All planned clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in England have now submitted their applications to operate under the new system planned for the National Health Service from April next year.
The NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB) said it has received submissions from 46 CCGs in the final wave (Wave 4) of applications, bringing the total number of CCGs in England to 211.
Essentially, the authorisation process is designed to ensure that these groups are fit for use, in that they can "commission safely, use their budgets responsibly and exercise their functions to improve quality, reduce inequality and deliver improved outcomes," according to the Board.
"In all four waves, every single CCG submitted its evidence on time and this reflects the hard work and dedication CCG leaders have shown throughout the authorisation process,” noted Dame Barbara Hakin, National Director: Commissioning Development at the NHSCB.
Handing over control of a huge chunk of the NHS budget to clinically-led commissioning groups is the crux of government's NHS reforms and will seriously change its operating landscape.
Transforming local outcomes?
The government claims that letting GP-led consortia oversee the planning and purchasing of services at the local level could transform health outcomes, and free the NHS from day-to-day political meddling.
But its proposals have been met with sharp opposition right from the start, particularly from the British Medical Association, which has voiced concern that CCGs could may create a competitive marketplace within the NHS in which services compete for business and patient care becomes fragmented.
And earlier this year, it emerged that GPs had taken up less than half of the available leadership positions in the CCGs, prompting concern that the profession is being sidelined from the decision-making process, according to an investigation by Pulse.