NHS leaders have given the strongest signal yet that clinical commissioning groups should appoint senior and experienced nurses.
CCGs, which will be led by GPs, will take over the majority of the NHS budget in April 2013.
The government said last summer that each must include a nurse on their governing body. But concerns have been raised that the groups will appoint nurses that are less qualified and experienced than those who have held senior positions in primary care trusts.
A Nursing Times investigation last month found some emerging CCGs had no nurses in place and others had some with little senior experience (news, page 2, 20 March).
It will be up to the new NHS Commissioning Board to decide whether individual CCGs are ready to take over from PCTs, through an “authorisation” process due in the summer and autumn.
The commission held its third public meeting on 13 April. The board’s chief nurse Jane Cummings raised the question of how it would check CCGs were ready to protect safety and quality, including responsibilities such as the safeguarding of children.
In response, the board’s commissioning development director Dame Barbara Hakin – who is in charge of the authorisation process – said protection of quality and safety was “very important” and noted that these areas were often led in PCTs by “very experienced senior nurses”.
“The authorisation process will be looking for CCGs to ensure [they have] the right leaders with all the breadth of skills they need,” she said. The CCG’s “capacity and capability” to oversee those areas would be “top of the list” of issues to be examined during authorisation, she added.