Clinical commissioning groups

Find out more about clinical commissioning groups, the groups of GPs that commission most NHS services.

What are they?

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are central to the Government’s health reforms. They give clinicians a key role in deciding how funds are spent, using knowledge of their patients and populations to meet local need. Each of England’s 8,000 GP practices is required to be part of a CCG and there are 211 groups in total. They are based around geographic areas decided by CCGs themselves. 

What do they do?

Responsible for a total budget of £65bn, they commission the majority of England’s secondary health services including:

  • emergency care
  • elective hospital care
  • maternity services
  • community and mental health services.

CCGs can commission from any provider that meets required standards and costs, whether NHS hospitals, social enterprises, charities, or the private sector. They must be sure of the quality of these services, taking into account National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines and Care Quality Commission data.

What governs their decision making?

All CCGs have three-year commissioning plans, which include the outcomes they want to achieve and how they will do it. Their plans draw upon their local joint strategic needs assessment and joint health and wellbeing strategy, from their health and wellbeing board. They are also guided by the NHS Mandate and the NHS planning guidance for CCGs Everyone Counts.

How are they structured?

Each practice is represented on its local CCG by a GP, other health professional or practice manager. CCGs have a governing body with an elected chair. They are managed by an executive team and have a member council to liaise with the governing body.

Commissioning support units (CSUs) offer practical support to CCGs. They employ staff from the old primary care trusts with expertise in areas such as service redesign, procurement and data analysis. There are 18 CSUs in England.

Who regulates CCGs?

They are accountable to NHS England and their local health and wellbeing board.

Find out more

  • find the CCGs operating in your area from the NHS England website.