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Clinical commissioning groups: Supporting improvement in general practice?

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are one of the main components of the government’s reforms to the health and social care system. In April 2013, these newly established, clinically led organisations replaced primary care trusts as the commissioners of most services funded by the National Health Service (NHS) in England, and now control around two-thirds of the NHS budget. All general practices in England are now legally obliged to be a member of a CCG. The intention is to encourage clinicians to play a greater role in deciding how funds are spent in order to shape services to meet local needs.

CCGs have two important, but distinct, roles: they are responsible for commissioning secondary and community care services for their local populations; and they have a legal duty to support quality improvement in general practice. This second role has received less attention to date, but is vitally important if CCGs are to achieve their wider objectives and deliver more integrated forms of care. It will, however, be a challenging role for them to fulfil, particularly as general practitioner (GP) services are commissioned by NHS England.