FOI requests sent to the 211 CCGs from the Centre for Health and the Public Interest (CHPI) have revealed that 60% of the 181 who responded did not record how many site inspections they undertook of outsourced services, or were unable to say how many they had done. Of even greater concern, 12% said they did not carry out any inspections at all.
The CHPI said there is also a reluctance among CCGs to enforce their contracts with the private sector, their investigations uncovered just 16 CCGs had imposed any financial sanctions due to poor performance.
The report claims that the reason many CCGs are unable to answer questions about their outsourcing contracts and how they are inspected and enforced is due to the complex arrangements surrounding them.
Most CCGs use an outsourced service for their contract monitoring function to CSUs (Commissioning Support Units). CSUs are at present part of NHS England, although the government intends them to become private companies by April 2016.
The CHPI suggest that NHS England should reconsider its plans to privatise the contract monitoring of NHS contracts. It points out that CCGs are the statutory bodies responsible for enforcing contracts between the NHS and the private sector, not CSUs, which remain unaccountable if anything goes wrong – and this problem will become exacerbated if CSUs become private companies.
The report also recommends an NHS England commissioned audit of CCGs’ capacity to monitor and manage contracts with non-NHS providers.
Source: National Health Executive
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