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In line with NHS England’s reforms, there will be fewer CCGs in the future, a Government committee has heard.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday that there will be a reduction in the number of CCGs to match the number of ICSs across the country, as part of the NHS long-term plan.
The plan, which was published on Monday, sets out how the health service will redesign services to improve patient care over the next decade.
Under NHS England’s proposals, ICSs will be created ‘everywhere’ by 2021, ‘growing out of the current network of STPs’, according to the long-term plan.
It said: ‘Every ICS will need streamlined commissioning arrangements to enable a single set of commissioning decisions at system level.
‘This will typically involve a single CCG for each ICS area.’
Asked by PAC member Gareth Snell whether there is going to be ‘significantly fewer CCGs to match the number of ICSs’, Mr Stevens said ‘in all likelihood, yes’.
However, he could not confirm how many ICSs will be set up to cover the whole country.
Also speaking before the committee, Department of Health and Social Care permanent secretary Sir Chris Wormald said that one of the challenges with reforming the NHS over the past decades has been ‘creating very firm plans with very firm numbers that have been fixed in stone until somebody reforms them again’.
He added: ‘Having the system where there is a much more continual state of evolution to whatever the next set of challenges and circumstances [are] feels to me like a much better type of reform for a sector of this size and complexity than for Simon to sit there and say, “The exact right number of CCGs is X”.
‘We do want to see the system evolve, we want to see greater efficiency over time as we do with all parts of public sectors.’
In November, NHS England deputy chief executive Matthew Swindells wrote to all CCGs, asking them to cut their administrative costs by 20% by 2020/21.
Mr Stevens told the PAC that the level of redundancies that might occur as a result of mergers, job losses or necessary actions will be subject to a ‘phased cost takeout’.
He said: ‘People will have to come forward with their plans. There’s obviously a natural churn, there are some vacancies in some organisations anyway so that will offset the redundancies numbers.
‘But we’re quite clear that we need those costs to be repaid during the year in which they are incurred, so that the taxpayers are a winner from the start rather than having lots of upfront lump costs to bear.’
Mr Stevens added that NHS England will be working with CCGs on their cost reduction plans.