What are Clinical Commissioning Groups?

Notice: Following publication of the Health and Care Bill 2021, and subject to this Bill receiving Royal Assent – NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups will be dissolved with their duties and functions transferring to Integrated Care Boards on 1st July 2022. At present the shadow entity for the Integrated Care Board is the Herts and West Essex Integrated Care System. However, the final name for this new entity is to be confirmed once formally assigned.


Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) were created following the Health and Social Care Act in 2012, and replaced Primary Care Trusts on 1 April 2013. They are clinically-led statutory NHS bodies responsible for the planning and commissioning of health care services for their local area. There are just under 200 CCGs in England.

In West Essex, our CCG covers Epping, Harlow and Uttlesford. Our Clinical Commissioning Group is a membership organisation and all of the GP practices in West Essex are members of the CCG. We have a Governing Body, responsible for running the CCG and a small staff team. Our Governing Body includes GPs, a hospital doctor, a nurse, lay members, senior members from Public Health and Essex County Council, and our senior staff.

We commission (or in simple terms, ‘buys’) many health services for the people of West Essex.

In April 2015 we received delegated responsibility for the commissioning of general practice in primary care services.

We are not responsible for commissioning most specialist healthcare or work carried out by dentists, pharmacists (chemists) and opticians; this is currently the responsibility of NHS England.

We also do not manage public health, as this is managed by the three local authorities (Epping Forest Council, Harlow Council and Uttlesford District Council).

More information can be found on the NHS Clinical Commissioners website.  With a continually evolving system, their publication The future of commissioning sets out the vision for the future of clinical commissioning, based on what they are hearing from members.