The role of local councils in scrutinising clinical commissioning

A parliamentary written answer from Anna Soubry MP provides some useful information for those interested in the lines of accountability of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).

In short, this involves consulting with the local authority’s health and wellbeing board, which in turn can report to the NHS Commissioning Board if it is not happy (which can in turn take action). The health and wellbeing board is also accountable itself to the local authority’s scrutiny committee, for which you can find details by adapting this search for your own local council site.

Here’s Anna Soubry’s answer in full:

“Local authorities have the power to review any matter relating to the planning, provision and operation of health services in their area. From April 2013, this will include the power to scrutinise the work of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) as well as all national health service bodies and relevant service providers from the independent sector. These powers of scrutiny provide an important mechanism for councillors to hold health services to account for the quality of their services and give greater influence to local people over NHS decision-making.

“CCGs will work with elected councillors, local authority commissioners and representatives of patients and the public through health and well-being boards to develop a comprehensive analysis of health and social care needs in each local area through Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs), and translate these into action in Joint Health and Well-being Strategies (JHWSs). CCGs, the NHS Commissioning Board and local authorities will also be expected to develop their commissioning plans in line with any relevant JSNA or JHWS, and must be able to justify any parts of their plans which are not consistent.

“When preparing or significantly revising its commissioning plan, a CCG must consult the health and well-being board on whether it has taken proper account of the JHWS, and the board must give its views—a statement of the final opinion of the health and well-being board must be included in the CCG’s published commissioning plan. The health and well-being board can express concerns to the NHS Commissioning Board, which would be able to take action where deviation from the relevant JHWS is not adequately justified.

“As a committee of the local authority, health and well-being boards will also be subject to overview and scrutiny committees of the local authority who will be able to review and scrutinise the decisions and actions of health and well-being boards, and make reports and recommendations to the authority or its executive.”