Lansley Urges NHS Groups To Use New Power And Freedom To Innovate

Over half of future NHS commissioning funds have already been delegated to clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), “and the number is rising all the time,” Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has told CCG clinical and managerial leads.

Mr Lansley wrote to Clinical Commissioning Groups highlighting the freedom the Health and Social Care Act will give them, reminding the leads that, from April 1st 2013, they will become statutory NHS budget holders in their own right.

“This means you will have the freedom to prioritise resources in ways that best suit the needs of your population – without being second-guessed – and to reinvest all efficiency savings you make directly back into front-line patient care,” he writes.

In one of four letters sent to key health and care organisations and their employees, Mr Lansley outlined that the Act will increase the powers of Clinical Commissioning Groups, and hopes that these new opportunities will be achieved.

Mr Lansley also wrote to the chief executives of NHS trusts and foundation trusts and to local authorities, to clarify what the newly-passed Health and Social Care Act will mean for them and their employees.

“You will… have the freedom to pursue innovative ways of delivering care that delivers better results for your patients,” Mr Lansley informs the CCG leads, noting that “you will also have the freedom to determine where you commission services.”

“I want to reassure you that the breadth and scope of competition in the NHS is something that you will determine, in the interest of your patients. It will not be imposed upon you from Whitehall,” he emphasised.

To the NHS trust chief executives, he confirmed that the Act will “give you genuine operational independence to determine how best to meet the needs of your commissioners.” He also reminded them that they are on the route of becoming NHS foundation trusts, which will confirm that they are a sustainable organisation and provide them with far greater operational freedom to organise services in ways they know will convey improved care for their patients.

“This will mean you will be able to develop more innovative services, and you will be able to merge with, or acquire, other NHS foundation trusts and NHS trusts without the explicit approval of Monitor and without a burdensome legislative process. Because you are an NHS trust you will suffer no disadvantage from an arbitrary cap on private income once you become an NHS foundation trust, so long as you demonstrate how it benefits your NHS services. In addition, there will not be any better deals on the table for private providers that you cannot access,” he noted.

The letter to the foundation trust chief executives assures them that the Act stops the government, or anyone else in the NHS, from discriminating against them in favour of the private sector. “I know from my discussions with some of you in the past just how frustrated you have felt about this practice. The Act prevents this in future, by law,” he commented.

And the government’s ambitions for health and social care “can only be realised with the enthusiastic contribution of local government,” the Health Secretary writes to local authorities’ chief executives and their directors of adult social services and of children’s services.

The Act puts local government in its rightful place at the core of the health and care service and gives them, for the first time since the 1970s, statutory responsibility for commissioning public health services, he informed the authorities.

“I know how some of you have been frustrated by the fragmentation of public health responsibilities, which has existed for decades. The Act puts that right, by bringing that responsibility back together – allowing you to develop holistic, integrated public health services that are more effective at tackling long-term health challenges like obesity, smoking and alcohol misuse,” he wrote.

“I hope you will take maximum advantage of your new powers and freedoms,” Mr Lansley wrote to all the groups.

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