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What is a clinical commissioning group?

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are clinically led membership groups of GP practices that plan, commission and performance-manage a range of local health services for their population. There are 211 CCGs in England and, between them, they manage most of the NHS commissioning budget for England.

CCGs were formed after the Health and Social Care Act 2012 was passed, devolving a range of commissioning responsibilities to CCGs from primary care trusts (PCTs).

CCGs are membership organisations and are statutory bodies, accountable to NHS England. NHS England ensures that CCGs have the capacity and capability to successfully commission services for their local population. NHS England also ensures that the CCGs meet their financial responsibilities.

At a local level, Health and Wellbeing Boards have been set up in local authorities to ensure that CCGs meet the needs of local people and, by bringing CCGs and local authorities together, better understand the health, social and wellbeing needs of their community.

NHS England

Bristol Health and Wellbeing Board

Why were CCGs formed?

The aim of clinically led commissioning is to give local, front-line professionals more responsibility for the design of local health services, making sure that they provide the best outcomes for patients.

Because family doctors and clinical specialists understand the needs of their patients, it follows that the system will be more sensitive to the needs of those patients, providing better, more accessible care. Patients can also become more involved in the commissioning decisions that are made, and in their own care management.

What are CCGs responsible for?

CCGs are responsible for planning, commissioning and monitoring the majority of their local population’s healthcare provision, including urgent and emergency care, community health services (such as community nursing and physiotherapy), maternity and newborn baby services, planned treatments and operations, and rehabilitation services.

CCGs are not responsible for:

  • general practice contracts
  • pharmacy contracts
  • dentist contracts
  • optician contracts
  • specialised services (i.e. those specialist treatments required by a small number of people)

These areas above are the responsibility of the national commissioning body, NHS England.

Public health, which was previously overseen by Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), is now the responsibility of local authorities. The role of public health teams in local authorities and Public Health England is to prevent disease, reduce health inequalities and promote healthy living for the population as a whole.

Public Health England

CCGs have a duty to ensure continuous improvement of the services they commission, reduce health inequalities, enable patient choice, promote patient involvement, integrate health and social care, and promote innovation and research.

To find out more about the reforms to the NHS under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, please watch the King’s Fund short animation - 'An alternative guide to the new NHS in England'

King's Fund animation

Every CCG has a written constitution and a governing body, which includes GPs, a nurse, two members of the public and a hospital specialist. You can find more information in the Library.