Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) awarding local enhanced services (LESs) have been told using competitive tender or the any qualified provider scheme 'will introduce greater transparency and help reduce the scope for conflicts'.
The steer from the NHS Commissioning Board (NCB) is contained within 14-page document Code of Conduct: Managing conflicts of interest where GP practices are potential providers of CCG-commissioned services published today.
The GPC has already expressed its fears about the future of LESs, described as 'community-based services' in the guidance, when CCGs take on responsibility for commissioning them when they take over from PCTs in April 2013. Responsibility for public health LESs transfers to local government.
The guidance says: 'In general, commissioning through competitive tender or any qualified provider (AQP) will introduce greater transparency and help reduce the scope for conflicts.
'There may, however, be circumstances where CCGs could reasonably commission services from GP practices on a single tender basis, ie where they are the only capable providers or where the service is of minimal value.'
The guidance also looks at how CCGs can ensure they preserve the integrity of decision making. Watch Dame Barbara Hakin, the NCB's national managing director of commissioning development, discuss this issue and the LES question at last week's Commissioning 2012 event in central London.
The guidance also advises CCGs to ensure the value of all contracts are published on their website as soon as contracts are agreed. It adds: 'Where CCGs decide to commission services through AQP, they should publish on their website the type of services they are commissioning and the agreed price for each service.'