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Clinical Commissioning Groups

Volume 546: debated on Tuesday 12 June 2012

This year, developing CCGs have delegated responsibility for more than £30 billion of local commissioning. Clinical leadership is using NHS resources more effectively, as part of improvements in care. In particular, we are seeing many improvements in community-based services—for example, a pulmonary exercise programme in Durham; a community spinal service in Reading; and a new musculoskeletal service in the Vale of York CCG.

I thank the Secretary of State for that reply. During the Easter recess, I helped to organise a number of health question times in my constituency, where we brought together the commissioning groups, doctors, people from acute hospitals and hundreds of interested constituents to talk about how we would improve local health care. The good news was that doctors and clinicians—

Will the Secretary of State help by telling me how we can communicate out this example so that other MPs can repeat this valuable exercise?

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for demonstrating how these new developing relationships that CCGs and local authorities are creating with NHS providers and care providers are delivering improvements in care for the constituents we all represent. I urge other hon. Members to follow her example in stimulating exactly those relationships.

The CCG covering my constituency is interested in improving patient care by looking at new methods of contracting and management, but it has been told that it must use a clinical support service set up by the primary care trust, staffed by ex-PCT staff and most likely based in Birmingham, rather than south Warwickshire, at a cost of £4 million a year. Could the Secretary of State—

I apologise, Mr Speaker. Will the Secretary of State confirm that there is no need for the CCG to use such an organisation and that it is free to form its own commissioning structure without incurring redundancy and wind-up costs from the PCT?

Yes, I can confirm that CCGs have the freedom to decide which commissioning activities they will do themselves and which they choose to secure from external organisations, thus enabling them to carry out their functions effectively. They can, if they wish, develop their own organisations and staff or contract with other organisations, and they are not required to contract with the commissioning support services hosted by the NHS Commissioning Board.

In order for the CCGs to be able to carry out and improve their services, they need appropriate funding. Will the Secretary of State therefore tell me why the Halton CCG has had less funding than it was promised originally?

If the hon. Gentleman is talking about the management budget for CCGs, I can tell him that we set out clearly that it would be up to £25 per head across England, and that is indeed the sum that will be made available.

Has the Secretary of State seen the letter to The Times this morning from six diabetes experts? What steps are the local groups taking to do more to prevent diabetes?

Yes, I read that letter this morning. Today, elsewhere in the House, the permanent secretary to my Department and the chief executive of the NHS will give evidence to the Public Accounts Committee on precisely that issue. In the context of doing so, they will demonstrate how we have continued over the past two years to achieve a substantial year-on-year increase in the number of patients with diabetes who are accessing best-practice services.

I welcome the successful development of clinical commissioning groups, but does my right hon. Friend agree that their success in refashioning care throughout the whole of the health and social care system will depend on close relationships not just in the health service but across into social care and the world of social housing, too?

I do believe that and the legislation requires it of clinical commissioning groups and health and wellbeing boards. The relationship being built up between clinical leadership in the NHS and democratic leadership through health and wellbeing boards is an instrumental part of delivering that integrated care.

The year 2011 saw the biggest ever fall in public satisfaction with the national health service. It was also the right hon. Gentleman’s first full year in office. Does he think that those two facts are in any way related?

No, I do not. The right hon. Gentleman might also care to note that the same survey demonstrated a lower level of satisfaction with the NHS in Wales than in England, but let us leave that to one side.

That survey of 1,000 people asked whether they were satisfied with the way in which the NHS was being run. I was not satisfied. We were in the midst of reform, and we are changing how the NHS is run. Government Members were demonstrating to the public that improvement is necessary and possible in the NHS and that we should not be satisfied with the situation. What is more interesting is that a survey of 70,000 people that we published today demonstrates that 92% of the public—an unprecedentedly high level—who received care from the NHS said that it was good, very good or excellent.

How out of touch can he get, Mr Speaker? I would have suggested some work shadowing on the NHS front line to get him back in touch, but I forgot that he cannot go into a hospital without a police escort these days. Let me tell him why satisfaction with A and E is down: he lowered the target and missed it repeatedly, leaving nearly a quarter of a million people waiting longer than four hours. Today we have found out why his waiting list statistics do not match people’s real experience: managers are changing clinical criteria and removing people from lists. If he wants to regain people’s trust, why not start today by ordering an immediate inquiry and ending this unacceptable practice of waiting list recategorisation?

I spend more time in hospitals than the right hon. Gentleman has hot dinners, I suspect—[Interruption.] The weekend before last, I spent two days in hospitals and I did not require any policemen to be there.

Let me make it clear. In A and E, we have 96.6% of patients being seen, treated and discharged within four hours. More to the point, the latest data on A and E show that the average time spent there came down from 57 minutes to 49. On the question of referral to treatment, we inherited more than 209,000 patients across the NHS who were waiting beyond 18 weeks for their treatment. According to the latest data, that figure went down by nearly 50,000. We are delivering for patients better and improving care. I wish the right hon. Gentleman would get on his feet—perhaps he will do it now—thank the NHS and congratulate it on the improving care, rather than trying to find the one thing wrong with it—

Order. I do not want to be unkind, but every month the Secretary of State’s answers are too long. Perhaps he can make this the first month in which he is rather more economical.