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CCGs should simplify local contracts to tackle unnecessary bureaucracy, leading GP says


By Léa Legraien
Reporter
17 January 2019

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CCGs should redesign their local contracts to reduce ‘unnecessary’ bureaucracy, a leading GP has said.

In the GP partnership review, published on Tuesday, GP and Wessex Local Medical Committee chair Dr Niger Watson said local contracts commissioned by CCGs ‘should be made simpler’, as they can be ‘burdensome’.

The review, commissioned by the Government, looked at the challenges faced by GP partnerships and how the current model could be transform to better fit within a modern NHS.

‘Unnecessary administrative burden’

Dr Watson said in the review that local contracts commissioned by CCGs for services such as minor surgery, drug monitoring and minor illness can be an ‘unnecessary administrative burden’ for GP partnerships.

He told Healthcare Leader: ‘There’s a whole host of local contracts with CCGs and often these are for relatively small sums of money that practices have to bid for and their monitoring can be burdensome.

‘Those contracts should be made simpler and bundled up so you’re not bidding for a contract worth £2,000, as for most practices bidding processes may be not worthwhile.’

Dr Watson also argued that the level of scrutiny of contracts in general practice tend to be ‘disproportionate’, compared to contracts within the hospital sector, which are sometimes ‘worth hundreds of millions’.

He said: ‘There should be less bureaucracy and they [CCGs] should be looking for outcomes rather than counting widgets, which is often the proxy that they use for the monitoring [of these contracts].

‘Streamlining processes’

In line with the NHS long term plan, NHS England deputy chief executive Matthew Swindells asked all CCGs in November to cut their administrative costs by 20% by 2020/21.

Dr Watson said that designing simpler local contracts could be part of CCG’s measures to help them achieve the 20% reduction imposed by NHS England.

NHS Clinical Commissioners chief executive Julie Wood told Healthcare Leader that reducing CCGs’ running costs by a fifth means ‘clinical commissioners will need to ensure they contract efficiently to avoid placing undue burden on GP practices or indeed themselves’.

She said: ‘Our members have told us that revising procurement and competition rules would streamline this process and help to facilitate system wide working, so we were pleased to see this included in the long-term plan, as one of the suggestions put forward to support integrated working across different sectors.’

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