NHS changes

In July 2010, the Secretary of State for Health announced big changes to the way that services are commissioned for people in England. The key changes are:
  • Strategic Health Authorities and Primary Care Trusts will be abolished in 2013
  • GPs will come together to form Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) that take on responsibility planning, designing and paying for health services in 2013
  • Responsibility for improving the public health to transfer to local councils
  • More emphasis placed on achieving better health and treatment (outcomes), rather than meeting targets
  • Greater freedom for providers of healthcare such as hospitals to improve and innovate
Further conversations with patients, service users and professionals led to some changes to the proposed reforms. These include widening of the membership of the boards of clinical commissioning groups to include nurses and hospital doctors, and ensuring they meet in public to assure for accessibility and transparency.

The changes became law on 27 March 2012.

Across England, GPs have been coming together to form CCGs that cover their local area. In summer 2011, the Department of Health announced a framework for authorisation. This will ensure only those CCGs that are ready and capable are put into the driving seat for commissioning care. Once authorised, CCGs will become statutory bodies, responsible for the health of local people.

PCT clusters

The NHS faces an unprecedented challenge. Advances in science and medicine have pushed up both the effectiveness and price of treatment. People are living longer, but with long-term health conditions. This has placed an unsustainable burden on the NHS, which needs to save between £15bn and £20bn over the next four years.

PCTs across England have clustered together to tackle the challenge. They are doing this by bringing services closer to home, improving quality and reducing costs.

In Birmingham and Solihull, four PCTs NHS Birmingham East and North, Heart of Birmingham tPCT, NHS South Birmingham and Solihull PCT have clustered to form NHS Birmingham and Solihull. Covering the second largest metropolitan area in the country, the cluster has set out an ambitious plan (called the Integrated Plan) to tackle the challenges faced by the local NHS.

Another key role of the cluster is to support the development CCGs in Birmingham and Solihull so they become authorised and able to take on PCTs responsibilities. Solihull CCG is working with the cluster, making use of its experienced, expert staff to learn the lessons of the past, while looking towards the future of clinical commissioning.