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NHS Services (Local Commissioning)

Volume 564: debated on Tuesday 11 June 2013

By April 2013, 211 clinical commissioning groups were authorised to commission the majority of NHS services for their local populations. CCGs are now empowered to design and deliver services based on the needs and choices of their patients, and NHS England will support CCGs to deliver high-quality outcomes.

I thank the Minister for that answer. My constituency struggled under a particularly inefficient primary care trust. It is, of course, early days, as the Minister has explained, but Surrey Downs CCG is already saving costs in bureaucracy so as to invest strategically in cutting counselling waiting lists, increasing funding for children with multiple disabilities, and setting up virtual wards run by a matron to supervise care in the community. Will the Minister join me in welcoming those important GP-led improvements in local care?

I applaud the CCG for the priorities it has set. Reducing waiting times for access to psychological therapies is a really good move, and the virtual ward has the potential to keep people out of hospital, maintaining their health better and reducing cost to the NHS.

Hackney CCG was one of the first to be up and running in shadow form. It is now operational but it is still persisting with a tendering approach to out-of-hours services. Will the Secretary of State write to the CCG to explain what has been said in this House—that tendering is not a requirement—and make it absolutely clear where the law lies?

The point I have tried to make all along is that this is about the judgment of the clinical commissioning groups, and nothing is imposed by the Government in what is required of them. European procurement rules existed under the Labour Government and this Government, but it is up to CCGs, working within the health and wellbeing board arrangements, to commission as they see fit for the benefits of their population.

Despite Witham town’s growing population, our GP ratio remains above the national and regional average. Does the Minister agree that the local commissioning model, and the CCG in particular, would urge GPs to explore ways to expand Witham’s health care provision to meet the needs of the growing local population?

I know that my hon. Friend has campaigned vigorously and consistently on this issue and the needs of her local community, and I agree that GPs ought to explore all ways they can of improving health care for her community.

May I declare my interest, and ask the Minister whether he is satisfied with the progress being made by CCGs in the provision of diabetes prevention work?

I understand that all clinical commissioning groups have a lead on diabetes care, but we can do an awful lot more to improve prevention work. We know that if we guide people in self-care, we can achieve massive improvements in their own health and well-being, and reduce the number of crises that occur. I am happy to work with the right hon. Gentleman to ensure we do everything we can to improve diabetes care.