The first wave of local clinical commissioning groups that have put themselves forward to be authorised for operation has been announced by the NHS Commissioning Board.

The applications are from 35 CCGs across England, and if they tick all the boxes they will become the first new GP-led commissioning groups to be established under the government's health bill. 

"All the emerging clinical commissioning groups have made fantastic progress to prepare themselves for authorisation," said Dame Barbara Hakin, National Director of Commissioning Development at the NHS Commissioning Board.

Applications for authorisation will take place in four waves between July and January next year, and the CCGs requesting assessment in waves two, three and four will be confirmed shortly, she added.

Statutory clinically-led commissioning groups are the central vein of the government's Health and Social Care Bill, the idea being to hand over a huge chunk of the National Health Service budget, to the tune of around £65 billion, to GP-led consortia that will oversee the planning and purchasing of services at the local level.

Feeling over the policy, however, remains divided. While there is support for the idea of pushing clinical decision making onto the front line in principle, the British Medical Association has cited many concerns over how this is being implemented in practice.

For one, it fears that CCGs could become vehicles for turning the National Health Service into a competitive marketplace, where services compete for business and patient care becomes fragmented.