NHS Swale Clinical Commissioning Group is responsible for commissioning (planning, paying for and monitoring) most health services in this area. It is led by local family doctors (GPs).
Since April 2016, the CCG and NHS England have been co-commissioning primary care services (GP practices) in Swale (Sittingbourne and the surrounding villages and the Isle of Sheppey). Previously, these services were commissioned solely by NHS England in this area.
Fair and transparent decision-making
The CCG decided to play a greater role in the commissioning of GP practices because this enables greater integration between health and care services for people in Swale. This plays a key part in our vision for the future across Kent and Medway.
However, there is a potential risk of conflicts of interest where CCGs led by GPs commission primary care services from general practices.
To deal with this, the CCG put in place additional governance arrangements to make sure that our decisions on general practice are not just fair and transparent but clearly seen to be so.
As a key part of these arrangements, we have a Primary Care Commissioning Committee, to oversee management of these responsibilities and to be the key decision-making body for primary care commissioning.
Most members of the committee are CCG officers or Lay or Independent Members of the CCG’s Governing Body, rather than GPs. The committee also has two GP members (to ensure inclusion of insights from general practice).
The Lay, Independent and officer majority ensure that decisions on purchasing and contracting matters are not taken by GPs, who may have a business interest in them as providers of care.
The committee is chaired by Gillian Wells, a Lay Member who is also a member of the CCG’s Governing Body. Representatives of Healthwatch Kent, the Local Medical Committee, NHS England, local councils and the Patient Liaison Group are also invited to help ensure external scrutiny and challenge of the committee’s decisions.
What does the committee do?
The committee’s overall remit is to ensure the effective management of:
- delivery of the strategic vision for primary care in Swale
- the planning and commissioning of primary care in Swale, including needs assessment and the development and retention of people working in primary care
- undertaking reviews of specific primary care services as necessary
- the coordination of a common approach to the commissioning of primary care services generally
- the management of the budget for commissioning and contract management of primary care in the CCG area.
To promote openness and transparency, all the committee’s meetings are held in public.