Good governance at the heart of the NHS

London, 6 November 2013
ICSA puts good governance at the heart of the NHS with the launch of its CCG code of governance
ICSA (the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators) has today launched a code of governance for National Health Service (NHS) clinical commissioning groups, or CCGs. The result of several months’ work by its policy team in conjunction with independent health care experts, the new code provides clear governance guidelines to CCGs to help them carry out their commissioning responsibilities efficiently, with improved patient care at the forefront of all that they do.

The code was written in response to the UK Government’s Health and Social Care Act of 2012, which handed responsibility for commissioning the delivery of certain NHS services in England, including secondary care and mental health services, to CCGs. With responsibility for approximately 60 per cent of the NHS budget, it is vital that CCGs perform their new statutory duties in a manner that is transparent and accountable as they seek to build and retain public trust in, and support for, the NHS.

Concise and user-friendly, the code takes the form of six principles which have been designed to complement official guidance from NHS England, as well as all relevant law and regulation. It reflects the move to increase participation of patients in their care by highlighting the importance of meaningful stakeholder engagement and collaboration. The six principles of the code are as follows:

•    CCG members and their governing bodies understand and support each other’s role in effective decision-making with a view to improving the experiences of patients and the quality of the care commissioned.
•    CCGs act collaboratively with a range of interested provider parties to deliver better health outcomes for patients and the public.
•    CCGs are aware of, and understand, the different relationships to be built and maintained by the CCG when working with other commissioning organisations and regulators in relation to the local and national health economy, and contribute effectively to the greater debate on patient safety, quality and outcomes.
•    The CCG and its governing body accept, and act in accordance with, collective accountability to its membership, along with drawing on the strengths and expertise of individual contributions.
•    The CCG, through its governing body, ensures that the views of interested parties including relevant clinical professionals, patients, their carers and the public are actively sought and used to inform commissioning decisions and the likely impact of such decisions.
•    Governing bodies have robust and effective processes for decision-making, as outlined in their constitution, that support and maintain transparency and accountability at every level.

The code is voluntary, but CCGs are encouraged to adopt the code’s principles and include a statement in their annual reports explaining how the principles have been applied.
An expert panel, chaired by The Right Hon The Lord Hunt of Wirral MBE (Partner at DAC Beachcroft LLP, Chair of the Press Complaints Commission and the Lending Standards Board), oversaw the development of the code and included representatives of all those professions and perspectives required to be included in the governing body of CCGs:  GPs, nurses, secondary care clinicians and lay people.
Lord Hunt, commenting on the importance of the code, says: ‘The Code is designed to help CCGs accept responsibility for effective clinically-based commissioning, such that there is a clear line of accountability at local level - where it matters most.’  

Peter Swabey, Policy & Research Director at ICSA, adds: ‘The UK Government has said that it is keen to ensure that transparency, integrity and probity are embedded within the NHS. Our code provides the foundation upon which these pillars can be placed. The most successful and sustainable organisations are built on trust, and trust and strong governance go hand in hand.’

- Ends -

Media contact:
Maria Brookes  
+44 (0)20 7612 7062
+44 (0)7890 649 143

Notes to Editors:

1.    The chair of the expert panel was The Right Hon The Lord Hunt of Wirral MBE, DAC Beachcroft LLP.

2.    Download ICSA’s NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups Code of governance here. Alternatively, the code will be available online from 9am today.

3.    More information around the ICSA NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups Code of governance can be viewed at

4.    The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) is the membership and qualifying body for professionals working in governance, risk and compliance, including company secretaries.  Our members work in all sectors and at every level of seniority. With over 100 years of experience, we champion high governance standards by providing qualifications, training, high-quality guidance and support (including technical resources, publications and software), and through our work with regulators and policy makers. Website:

5.    With over 2,300 people, DAC Beachcroft combines one of the most comprehensive UK legal networks with coverage across Europe, Latin America, North America and Asia-Pacific.  DAC Beachcroft refers to the DAC Beachcroft Group, which includes a number of differently regulated entities within the UK and internationally. The business provides a full service commercial, transactional, claims, risk and advisory capability. DAC Beachcroft works with clients in a select range of industry sectors and is a market leader in health, insurance and real estate. Website:

6.    The ICSA Advanced Certificate in Health Service Governance is a standalone qualification designed for governance professionals within the NHS looking to learn the skills and best practice governance specific to this sector. The course is the only one of its kind to be offered in a self-study, distance learning format and comprises webinars, study text, comprehensive study support, and two practice tasks, and culminates in a three-hour exam in either June or November.

The certificate is designed for anyone who works in the NHS and has responsibility for health service governance/administration, or for those wanting to work in the health service in a governance capacity. The Health Service Governance module can also be taken as an option for students preparing for the ICSA Chartered Secretaries Qualifying Scheme. Website:

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