Five-year strategy

We are currently developing a financial sustainability strategy, which will sit alongside the clinical strategy work already carried out by the Clinical Reference Groups, which is referenced on these web pages. We will be bringing together these two areas of work later this year.

We recognise that a significant amount of work has already been carried out in the development of a longer-term strategy for specialised services, not least a number of valuable engagement events which provided us with a wealth of feedback about the future shape of specialised services commissioning.

We feel it is important, therefore, to keep these existing web pages open, in order that people can see the work carried out to date.

Please note that this work is now being moved forward by the specialised commissioning task force, and we will keep you updated about its progress via our new stakeholder newsletter that will be launching shortly, and through our task force section


In July 2013, NHS England published ‘The NHS Belongs to the People: A Call to Action’.  It describes why the NHS needs to be transformed in order to meet the health needs of the future, and to address an economic gap that is expected to emerge over the coming years and which, it is estimated, will reach approximately £30 billion by 2020/21.

Specialised services, like other NHS services, face both a quality and a funding gap. In some areas our outcomes lag behind our international peers: in several types of cancer, for example, survival rates are not as good as those of other countries. We also know that specialist centres, which treat high volumes of patients and benefit from highly skilled staff, tend to produce the best outcomes.

As part of the strategy programme initiated by the Call to Action, NHS England will be producing a commissioning strategy for specialised services to respond to these pressures and patients, clinicians and other key stakeholders are being encouraged to give their views on the future of specialised health services, and how they are to be provided by the NHS over the next five years.

James Palmer, who is Clinical Director for Specialised Services and is leading the development of the strategy, said: “We want to hear from as many people as possible over the coming months about their views on the future direction of specialised services.

“The delivery of specialised services involves the whole health system. NHS England is the direct commissioner for the majority of the services, but Clinical Commissioning Groups and local authorities are also responsible for commissioning parts of the pathway, and delivering, elements of care. Many of the conditions treated in specialised services are highly debilitating, life-long and demand the advice of experts, as well as responsive access to care locally when needed.

“The feedback received from stakeholders will help to inform a five-year plan which will drive forward the promotion of equity and excellence in the commissioning of specialised services, and ensure that patients receive high quality, integrated care, regardless of where they live”.

Development of the strategy will be split into two parts: the overall mission and vision which sets out the direction of the strategy for 2014/15 – 2018/19, and service-level planning, which will set priorities for individual services.

All information relating to the five-year strategy will be published on the NHS England website in due course.