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24.03.20

NHS England to undertake CCG powers to support coronavirus efforts

Following the publication of a national directive by the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England has been legally directed to take on extensive powers typically held by clinical commissioning groups to support efforts in tackling the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Under the new guidance, NHS England will be able to buy services from the public sector and carry out actions usually reserved for CCGs to support the coronavirus effort, where such measures are deemed “appropriate”.

The directive, which came into immediate effect and will be in place until the end of 2020, has been introduced principally to allow NHS England the powers to buy independent beds on block, as announced in recent days.

However, the national directive’s scope of powers extends beyond to other CCG functions as well, with the Department of Health and Social Care seeking to maximise the healthcare service’s capabilities in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

CCGs will continue to also hold the powers and functions now legally provided to NHS England.

The national directive states: “The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care gives the following directions in exercise of the powers conferred by section 253 of the National Health Service Act 2006 (1).

“The Secretary of State considers that the incidence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in England constitutes an emergency for the purposes of section 253 (1) of that Act, and that accordingly it is appropriate to give these directions.”

As per the directive, any additional functions NHS England has been granted must be exercised for the “purposes of commissioning health services from independent providers” and have to be seen as fit to either directly or indirectly support the NHS efforts against coronavirus, judged by the board.

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