The Health Service Journal reports that there appears to have been a good response to NHS England’s request for submissions of expressions of interest for taking on enhanced powers and responsibilities to co-commission primary care (as reported by Phil Grey in his blog on 9 May 2014). It suggests up to 180 of the 211 CCGs invited to respond have expressed an interest (although these are not confirmed figures).

Despite the seeming popularity amongst CCGs, the plans appear to have generated mixed reviews among the wider health sector. The HSJ notes opposition from the BMA and other senior health leaders.

The most obvious issue raised by NHS England’s proposal is that of the potential for conflicts of interests with GPs involved in both the commissioning and delivery of primary care services.  

We know from experience that conflicts of interest are an aspect of commissioning that have caused concerns for a number of our CCG clients. However, conflicts of interest can be managed and there is guidance issued by NHS England to assist commissioners together with a code of conduct designed to deal specifically with scenarios where GPs could be potential providers of services commissioned by a CCG.

It will be interesting to see the detail of NHS England’s proposals for how it plans to implement co-commissioning and whether any additional updates to this guidance will be required to help CCGs avoid conflicts in this situation.