SHCA welcomes Public Accounts Committee recommendations for NHS specialised services

The SHCA today welcomes the publication of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee’s report on NHS Specialised Services, following a recent evidence session and National Audit Office report on the issue.

To a significant extent, the report reflects the views of the Alliance and its members, as expressed through submissions to the inquiry. The Committee sets out areas of significant concern, including NHS England’s lack of transparency and accountability, poor data and business intelligence, and need for stronger financial control.

The Committee’s recommendations include:

1. As a matter of urgency, NHS England should ensure that a consistent process is put in place to ensure its decision-making is transparent and equitable. It must improve the transparency of its decision-making by publishing a document, by September 2016, which sets out the roles of its advisory committees and decision-making bodies, the decisions they make, how these decisions will be documented, and when and to whom they will be made available.
2. NHS England should engage with clinical commissioning groups to address barriers to collaborative commissioning and, by October 2016, set clear milestones and timelines by which measurable service change and patient benefit from this initiative will be demonstrated.
3. NHS England has said it will be collecting more consistent data. By April 2017, it should use this data to link spend, by service provided, to service quality, patient outcomes and patient experience; to allow clear comparison between different providers and to improve value for money.

While some of the Committee’s concerns on the large increases in budget for specialised commissioning since April 2013 can be explained by the incorrect baseline budget set at the time of NHS England’s establishment, a range of concerns are set out in relation to future cost growth and management of provider activity.

The Alliance will press for NHS England to deliver on the Committee’s recommendations in the months ahead and looks forward to ensuring that patients’ interests are at the front and centre of this work. The Alliance considers that the interrelated recommendations of the Specialised Services Commission published in May provide a practical template for NHS England.