NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is responsible for planning and paying for (commissioning) most health services in this area. It is led by local family doctors (GPs).
Since April 2016, NHS West Kent CCG and NHS England have been co-commissioning primary care services (GP practices) in west Kent. Previously, these services were commissioned solely by NHS England in this area.
NHS West Kent CCG decided to play a greater role in the commissioning of GP practices because this will enable greater integration between health and care services for people in west Kent. This plays a key part in our (the CCG’s) vision for the future and also the national NHS vision set out in the Five Year Forward View.
However, there is a potential risk of conflicts of interest where CCGs led by GPs commission primary care services from general practices.
To deal with this, NHS West Kent CCG has put in place additional governance arrangements to make sure that our decisions on general practice are not just fair and transparent but clearly seen to be so.
As a key part of these arrangements, we have set up a Primary Care Commissioning Committee, to oversee management of these new responsibilities and to be the key decision-making body for primary care commissioning.
Most members of the committee are CCG officers or Lay or Independent Members of the CCG’s Governing Body, rather than GPs. The committee also has two GP members (to ensure inclusion of insights from general practice).
The Lay, Independent and officer majority ensure that decisions on purchasing and contracting matters are not taken by GPs, who may have a business interest in them as providers of care.
The committee is chaired by a Lay Member who is also a member of the CCG’s Governing Body. Representatives of Healthwatch Kent, the West Kent Health and Wellbeing Board, the Local Medical Committee and NHS England are also members of the Primary Care Commissioning Committee and help ensure external scrutiny and challenge of the committee’s decisions.
To promote openness and transparency, all the committee’s meetings are held in public.
Members of the press, media and public are most welcome to attend to observe proceedings. There is an opportunity for questions from the public at the start of the meetings.
The committee’s overall remit is to ensure the effective management of:
- delivery of the strategic vision for primary care in west Kent, in line with the CCG’s Mapping the Future Blueprint
- the planning and commissioning of primary care in west Kent, including needs assessment and the development and retention of people working in primary care;
- undertaking reviews of specific primary care services as necessary;
- the coordination of a common approach to the commissioning of primary care services generally; and
- the management of the budget for commissioning and contract management of primary care in the CCG area.