– By Greg Mills, Founder of Analytic Health


In this article we take a brief look into the ever-changing landscape of NHS England and the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), which are groups of General Practices (GPs) that work together to define the best services for their patients and population1.


What exactly is happening?

In November 2020, NHS England released plans for major structural changes to its organisation. In April 2021 this change took effect when 38 of the CCGs were consolidated to become 9, taking the total number of CCGs down to 106.2


A one-off adjustment or part of a bigger picture?

In short, it’s part of a much bigger picture. Since the introduction of the CCGs with the Health and Social Care act of 2012, which aimed to strengthen competition within healthcare by creating a complex, localised structure3, there has been a notable reversal in policy4. From over 200 CCGs, initially, there are now likely to be just 42 by April 2022, as NHS England moves towards its vision of a fully Integrated Care System (ICS).


Why make these changes?

There are suggested to be many benefits to an ICS, including that the action will support the pandemic recovery by removing unnecessary bureaucracy, empowering local bodies and tackling health inequalities5.  However, others question the timing of such a shakeup, as the NHS continues to struggle with Covid-19- one of the biggest challenges in its history. There are also concerns over the loss of local knowledge and community partnerships, even the threat of privatisation that critics say the consolidation may lead to6.


What does it mean for Pharmly Analytics?

Pharmly Analytics is an application that provides analysis of prescribing habits and healthcare trends around the UK, with maps, graphs and insights aiming to support decision making for a range of organisations. We wrote another article about how the prescribing data can be useful and also some of its challenges here

As the prescribing data is released 2 months in arrears, we are now gearing up for the new data structure. The April data for England will be released in the middle of June, so as soon as that happens we will switch our setup to include the new CCG structure: 106 CCGs instead of the current 135. The historical data for the 38 CCGs which technically no longer exist will be integrated into the 9 newly introduced CCGs, so no data will be lost. 


How can I learn more?

Please contact us if you have any questions regarding the restructure, how it affects the Pharmly Analytics application, or to collaborate on projects which help to accelerate innovation in healthcare.


Details of all the mergers:


CCG change summary
Figure 1. CCG change summary (source: NHS Digital)

References

  1. https://www.england.nhs.uk/commissioning/who-commissions-nhs-services/ccgs/
  2. https://digital.nhs.uk/services/organisation-data-service/change-summary-reconfiguration-2021-ccg-mergers
  3. BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n248
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/feb/11/matt-hancock-lays-out-his-plan-for-wholesale-reorganisation-of-nhs
  5. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/blueprint-launched-for-nhs-and-social-care-reform-following-pandemic
  6. https://keepournhspublic.com/covid-nhs-restructuring-ics/