GP consortia’s new commissioning responsibilities require healthcare organisations to develop new skills and new ways of working. As the NHS white paper proposals for GP commissioning states, the reforms represent the biggest change to the NHS for 60 years “not just in structure but in culture and ways of working.” PA’s health team give some practical advice on where to begin.
For healthcare organisations, there is no existing model to reference how the workforce should be arranged and one might view the ‘safe’ option for taking on this new role as transitioning across existing PCT commissioning staff to the new GP commissioning operations. However, PCTs have had mixed experiences at commissioning so simply transitioning the same team may not deliver the improvements in healthcare or value for money required.
This is the opportunity for your GP commissioning consortium to create the right workforce that will underpin a successful, and potentially different, commissioning function.
'What capabilities does our GP commissioning consortium need?'
As a GP commissioning consortium, you need to ask ‘What capabilities do we need?’ To execute GP commissioning successfully requires not just new systems and processes but also a new approach to developing the right organisational cultures and workforce capabilities – and these will be different from those already in place within the PCT.
'Where do we get our commissioning capabilities from?'
Once you know what your GP commissioning consortium will look like, the next question is ‘where do we get our capabilities from?’ The options are to build commissioning capabilities, buy them or rent them – and the three are not mutually exclusive. You can mix and match to build the commissioning organisation that meets the needs defined:
- ‘Build them’ by training existing staff from within your combined practice teams, offering new avenues of career development to your staff. Ideally, the core capabilities for your consortium should come from within.
- ‘Buy them’ by employing skilled staff from outside the immediate health environment who will bring new ideas and imagination to the team. This is particularly the case where you are seeking specialist skills, (e.g. legal expertise) that do not exist in-house or are not needed year round.
- ‘Rent them’ by outsourcing some of the commissioning service to a third-party provider. In our view, this option should only be used when you cannot build or buy capabilities.
‘How do we develop a collaborative culture to ensure effective commissioning?’
The role that GPs will play in commissioning and the range of roles that the consortium will to accommodate will have a significant impact upon the prevailing culture. So with the team in place, you should then ask, ‘How do we develop the collaborative culture to ensure effective commissioning?’
- Leadership development: the relationships between the various parties in the GP commissioning consortium, especially at board level, will be crucial. Leaders should agree early how they will work together and make decisions across the organisation.
- Skills development: this goes beyond the basic skills required to operate the commissioning process. It is about the next stage of development – giving staff the chance to grow and learn how to work effectively as a team.
- Cultural development: adapting the organisation to engage with multiple stakeholders and lead public consultations represents a very different way of working to that found in most GP practices.
The opportunities to deliver a more effective and efficient commissioning system are here for the taking. GP commissioning consortia have the opportunity to be innovative and create the workforce that is right for them.
GP commissioning consortia will need to model, plan for and recruit the right people into the right roles in order to ensure they have the necessary skills to manage the commissioning function.
To learn how PA can help your GP commissioning consortium develop the right capabilities, please contact us now.