Pathfinder groups bulletin – August 2011

In this month’s issue:

Welcome from Barbara Hakin

Dame Barbara HakinWelcome to the latest issue of the Pathfinder bulletin. It may be holiday season for many, but I know I won’t be alone in saying that the last few weeks have been extremely busy and I expect that to continue right the way through autumn.

This month’s bulletin includes updates on the authorisation framework for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), the People Transition Policy for the NHS Commissioning Board, and news about advice and guidance on development issues for clinical commissioning groups. I do hope you are continuing to find these bulletins useful. As always, if you have any comments or questions please forward them to

As you can see in this month’s bulletin, the work around CCG authorisation is ongoing and is very much a partnership project with yourselves as clinical commissioners and our other colleagues and stakeholders in the NHS and in primary care organisations. An agreed, transparent authorisation process is fundamental to ensure we can create a network of successful, effective CCGs and understandably the development of a framework to support that is one of my key areas of focus at the moment. You will see from the draft document we have issued that we have offered all potential CCGs the opportunity for an early assessment of their proposed shape. This assessment will be undertaken by SHAs and will help you to understand how likely your arrangements are to meet the requirements of the Health and Social Care Bill (subject to its passage through Parliament). This assessment is for your benefit and should help you recognise potential issues and risks early so that you can put in place arrangements to manage these. I would urge you all to take up this assessment.

Another focus is the development of commissioning support. Over the coming months we aim to enhance our plans for the development of commissioning support. It is becoming clearer that we cannot undertake the non-clinical aspects of commissioning in the way we’ve always done and we now have the opportunity to do things differently. We are looking for a transformational change across the commissioning structure that really puts patients at the heart of everything we do. We need to focus on quality, but also ensure that we drive productivity at the same time. We hope to get more information on this to you and the rest of the service over the next few weeks.

So as I said, a busy few months coming up. Thank you again for your continued engagement and commitment to the process. I am really keen to create an infrastructure that brings all pathfinders and emerging CCGs together so we can share learning, give each other encouragement and assistance and develop the vision that will deliver quality services for our patients in the future

Kind regards,
Dame Barbara Hakin, National Managing Director of Commissioning Development

Authorisation update

In the last bulletin we talked about the work that is underway to create and define a clear process to authorise emerging clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). Since then we have shared our initial thinking – based on discussions with a number of stakeholder groups – with the wider NHS and have been collating your responses.

Thank you to everyone who has responded to date, either directly or through your local PCT or SHA cluster. We are now collating the thoughts and comments that have been submitted and will publish an updated version of our thinking to date in the autumn. In the interim if you have any queries, please contact your SHA Director of Commissioning Development.

NHS Commissioning Board’s People Transition Policy

The NHS Commissioning Board (NHS CB) has set out the policies and processes that will guide the first round of its appointments with the publication of its People Transition Policy (PTP).

Aligned with the HR Framework and developed in partnership with employers and trades unions, the PTP sets out in detail the HR principles and procedures that will support a fair and transparent transfer, selection and appointments process.

You can read the document here.

Delegation of commissioning and legal status of emerging clinical commissioning groups

Following a number of queries, Barbara Hakin has recently written to SHA Directors of Commissioning Development to provide clarification in relation to two important aspects of CCG development.

A note on delegation of commissioning and legal status of pathfinders sets out the technical detail about the specific indicator to track the progress of budget delegation for the remainder of 2011/12.  In addition to this, the NHS – led by NHS London and NHS North East – has developed peer guidance on a nationally consistent approach to delegation.

It also addresses some of the questions raised on the legal status of CCGs, once they are established under the proposed legislative framework in the Health and Social Care Bill, as well as the legal status of pathfinders or emerging CCGs. SHA Directors of Commissioning Development will be making this available locally.

Functions of clinical commissioning groups

The original Functions of GP commissioning consortia document (published in March 2011) set out for CCGs the legal requirements that would be placed on them subject to the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill.  A revised version, likely to be published in September, will update the March publication in light of revisions to the Health and Social Care Bill that impact on CCGs as a result of the NHS Future Forum Report and Government response. Further information will be available shortly.

Webchat with Barbara Hakin – 5 September

Dame Barbara Hakin will be taking part in an online webchat next week to give you an opportunity to ask questions or send in comments about some of the key issues you’re working through at the moment, including authorisation, CCG development and commissioning support.

The webchat will be held between 4.30pm and 5.30pm on Monday 5 September. You can find out more, register and log in via the Pathfinder Learning Network.

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