News Archive

Archive of: 2012


  • Department publishes Mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board

    The Department of Health has today published its finalised Mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board. The Alliance had urged explicit consideration of the Board’s performance in directly commissioning specialised services to be included in the final Mandate, and is pleased to see that this has been recognised.

    The Mandate includes the following wording around the Board’s direct commissioning:

    “In all it does, whether in the Mandate or not, whether supporting local commissioners or commissioning services itself, the Commissioning Board is legally bound to pursue the goal of continuous improvement in the quality of health services.”

    “An objective is to ensure that, whether NHS care is commissioned nationally by the Board or locally by clinical commissioning groups, the results – the quality and value of the services – should be measured and published in a similar way, including against the relevant areas of the NHS Outcomes Framework. Success will be measured not only by the average level of improvement but also by progress in reducing health inequalities and unjustified variation.”

    The contribution of the Alliance to inform the development of the final Mandate was also noted in the Department’s summary of consultation responses, as follows:

    “the Specialised Healthcare Alliance argued that “the draft mandate might usefully note that the Board will be assessed not only on its contribution to broader social and economic objectives through its oversight of CCGs, but also through its direct commissioning functions.” We agree with this and have amended the mandate to reflect this.”

    The full Mandate is available here: http://www.dh.gov.uk/health/2012/11/nhs-mandate/

  • SHCA biennial conference. Change of date.

    The date of the SHCA biennial conference has been changed to Tuesday 8th January due to circumstances beyond the Alliance’s control. The headline speakers remain Sir David Nicholson, Sir Bruce Keogh and the Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell MP. The revised programme and registration form can be downloaded here.

  • SHCA response to consultation on the draft mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board

    On 4th July, the Department of Health opened a consultation on its draft mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board, which runs until 26th September. The mandate will be an important mechanism to enable the Secretary of State to hold the Board to account for its outcomes. A substantial part of the Board’s role will be its direct commissioning of specialised services, which collectively amount to over £10 billion. As such, it is crucial that the first mandate contains the necessary level of detail to assess the Board’s performance of these functions.

  • SHCA conference on seizing the opportunities of reform

    As the NHS Commissioning Board prepares to assume direct responsibility for specialised services, the Alliance is delighted to welcome Sir David Nicholson, Sir Bruce Keogh and The Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell MP to a top line-up of speakers for our third biennial conference on 6th November.

    The conference is aimed at a broad audience and, as well as reviewing the Board’s general preparedness, will be looking at the key issues of policy convergence, integration, diagnosis and shared decision-making and innovation where specialised services are concerned.

  • SHCA wins top award

    The Alliance was delighted to beat off tough competition and win the Best Healthcare Policy Programme at this year’s Communique Awards for its work in helping to inform and influence the development of specialised commissioning policy for people with rare and complex conditions.

    View results page

  • Future of AGNSS

    The Advisory Group for National Specialised Services has announced a moratorium on its consideration of new highly specialised services, products and technologies, pending the NHS Commissioning Board taking up its statutory responsibilities in April 2013. Its future thereafter seems uncertain. The Alliance is urging AGNSS’s retention, as well as continued Ministerial involvement in what can often be strategically important decisions with ramifications for all four home countries.

  • UK Plan for Rare Diseases Consultation

    On 29th February, the Department of Health opened a consultation on a UK-wide plan for rare diseases. While the Alliance welcomes the development of a UK rare disease plan as a means of improving care for people with less-common conditions, the proposals currently lack vision and coherence. In particular, the Alliance wishes to see clear accountability providing equitable access to specialised services and treatments wherever you live, allied with a strong focus on outcomes. To provide the necessary leadership in implementing the plan, the Alliance urges the appointment of a national clinical director for specialised services in each of the home countries.

    The consultation closes on 25th May, and is available to read here

  • House of Commons adjournment debate on rare diseases strategy

    On 30th April Edward Timpson MP secured a short debate in the House of Commons on the UK’s strategy for rare diseases. He set out some of the challenges presented by rare diseases for care and service planning, with contributions from other interested parliamentarians. Simon Burns, the Health Minister, then provided the government’s response.

    A transcript of the debate is below, along with the Alliance’s briefing on the topic, as provided to Edward Timpson for the debate.

  • NHS Commissioning Board Authority provides assurance on structure for specialised commissioning

    At a meeting of 2nd February, the NHS Commissioning Board Authority approved proposals to structure the future NHS Commissioning Board around a ‘matrix working’ design. As the slides below indicate, this will see aspects of specialised commissioning falling across many of the nine proposed Directorates.

    The Alliance sought reassurances that specialised commissioning would have clear leadership at Board level. Bill McCarthy, Managing Director responsible for transition to the Commissioning Board, provided the following assurance as he introduced the proposed Board structure at the Authority’s February meeting, saying:

    “We have had some good discussions with representatives of patient groups around specialised commissioning… We are confident that the proposals satisfy the very prominent focus that the Commissioning Board will have on specialised commissioning… As we recruit to the Director posts there will be a Director who will take a lead responsibility around specialised services commissioning so there will be a good point of contact for the various groups who have got those interests.”