What is clinical commissioning

Frequently asked questions


Why is the way the local NHS is run changing?

The Government’s ambition to create the NHS as the best healthcare system in the world is rooted in the three principles of giving patients more power, focusing on healthcare outcomes and quality standards, and giving frontline professionals much greater freedoms and a strong leadership role. At the heart of these proposals are clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) made up of local GPs.

So what are clinical commissioning groups?

NHS England is developing and overseeing a comprehensive system of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) which will have the responsibility for commissioning the majority of healthcare services. This new system of clinical commissioning began on 1 April 2013 when the Primary Care Trusts, which presently commission services for local people, were abolished. CCGs are designed to unleash the potential for clinical leadership. CCGs now cover the whole country and are accountable for how they use resources to secure quality care. CCGs are responsible for securing the highest quality and outcomes for patients within the resources available to them.

This commissioning system is led by GPs and other clinicians. With clinicians who serve a local population of registered patients at their heart, CCGs have a strengthened knowledge of local health needs and the quality of local services.  Building on this knowledge they will be able to lead service redesign with the confidence, and gain the respect and support of their colleagues across the health care system.

How do clinical commissioning groups work?

Through clinical commissioning, clinicians takethe lead in working with patients to decide what range of services are needed for their local population and making sure that the specifications for those services will deliver what is needed in terms of quality and outcomes.  Clinicians can use their knowledge of services and their contact with patients to identify where providers need to be supported and challenged on quality and outcomes. They can help bring together leaders from across health and social care to agree priorities and design more integrated services.

What does clinical commissioning mean for GPs and GP practices?

Clinical commissioning means clinicians using their knowledge and expertise to lead and improve the commissioning process. Clinicians will work with the support of managers, some of them directly employed by CCGs and others working in commissioning support organisations. Some GPs will have formal leadership roles as part of the CCG’s governing body and will bring together the views of member GP practices in the commissioning plans of the CCG.

CCGs will be locally driven, identifying their own leaders - both those who will have a place on any decision-making body and those who will run the organisation on a day-to-day basis.

Who are clinical commissioning groups responsible to?

CCGs are supported by and held to account for improving patient outcomes by NHS England.

Page last updated 25 May 2016