BOSSES of the newly formed Thurrock Clinical Commissioning Group (TCCG) have denied that any form of “gagging order” has been placed on the members of the group.
The TCCG was formed on April 1st and will have responsibility for the multi-million pound NHS budget in Thurrock.
But the birth of the Thurrock group has been mired in controversy with bitter divisions between GPs and practices.
Documents seen by the Daily Telegraph show that CCGs have issued hundreds of doctors with restrictions which mean they can say nothing about the work of their CCG, without written permission from those in charge of it.
The clauses are significant because the organisations hold responsibility for most of the NHS budget, and will make crucial decisions affecting patient safety and care – such as which drugs and treatments to fund, and whether to close any local services.
According to the Telegraph, among the number of CCG’s who have “gagging clauses” is Thurrock. The others named are
NHS Newbury and District, NHS Sutton, NHS Dorset and NHS Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead.
In each case, the constitution had to be signed by one GP from every practice in the area, representing all doctors in their surgery.
However, Thurrock CCG bosses there are no such gagging orders in place.
Head of Corporate Governance for Thurrock CCG Andrew Stride said: “NHS Thurrock CCG does not have a gagging clause, however the Board have recently indicated that they want the wording of the Constitution to be clarified to remove any ambiguity and to ensure the CCG operates and is seen to operate in compliance with the Nolan Principles for Public Life and the findings of the Frances Inquiry.
“Revised wording will be considered by the Board at its next meeting on 17th April 2013”.
Portfolio holder for health, cllr Barbara Rice (Lab) has pledged that she will look into the situation.
Shadow health spokesperson, cllr Shane Hebb (Cons) has been more forthright.
Cllr Hebb said: “In an age where powers are being moved back into the hands of people in communities, rather than in the grasp of the state, I and every Thurrock patient should expect complete and absolute transparency. Nothing less will do”.