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Cumbria’s lead GPs are working hard to ensure that patient’s are at the forefront of healthcare in Cumbria as the development of NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) continues. Cumbria CCG is currently in shadow form as it moves through a formal process to become an official responsible body which will take over responsibility from NHS Cumbria, the primary care trust for deciding how and where local health services should be delivered later this year.
NHS Cumbria is set to be abolished as part of government health reforms by April 2013. The Clinical Commissioning Group will replace it with formal responsibility for commissioning local health services.
'Commissioning’ means planning and purchasing NHS services for local people from hospital trusts and other organisations.
In order for the Department of Health to assess if the group and other clinical commissioning groups across the county are fit to take on this responsibility, they must pass a series of tests and assessments before becoming formally ‘authorised’. Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Groups is in the first group of CCGs to be assessed like this and should find out if it has passed its authorisation by winter this year.
Once Cumbria CCG is authorised it will begin formally managing a budget of around £650million and decide how and where local health services will be delivered. To decide how and where local health services will be delivered. It will do this working with local NHS providers such as NHS hospital trusts to decide how services can best be delivered to be safe and sustainable in the future in partnership with other nearby clinical commissioning groups in Lancashire and the North East.
Unlike the primary care trust, the CCG will not have responsibility for commissioning public health initiatives and programmes, specialised services such as radiotherapy, GPs or NHS dentistry. Responsibility for most public health functions will pass to both local authorities and Public Health England and the commissioning of other specialist services and services which could cause a conflict of interest will pass to the NHS National Commissioning Board.
At the same time as the CCG starts to assume responsibility after authorisation, NHS Cumbria will play a smaller and smaller role as it prepares to be closed down formally in April 2013.
Dr Hugh Reeve (pictured) is the Clinical Chair Designate of Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group. He said: “At the moment we are working hard to get everything in place so as soon as the CCG is authorised we can continue with the job of improving health services for patients, taking up the mantle officially from the primary care trust.
“Once authorised the CCG has the official sanction of the NHS and Department of Health to be in charge of making decisions over how and where local health services in Cumbria can and should be delivered such as; local hospital services, community based health services and mental health services. As a GP I am very passionate about improving services for patients and I believe myself and my clinical colleagues across the county, whether GPs, nurses or consultants, can now start working together to see how we can do best do this.”