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Developing Operational Delivery Networks: The Way Forward

Today we are announcing the introduction of Operational Delivery Networks which will complement  the newly created Strategic Clinical Networks.

Operational Delivery Networks (ODNs) will cover areas such as neonatal intensive care, adult critical care, burns and trauma and are focussed on coordinating patient pathways between providers over a wide area to ensure access to specialist support. and expertise.

Working closely with Strategic Clinical Networks, commissioners, providers and patients , ODNs will ensure the delivery of safe and effective services across the patient pathway and help secure the best outcome for patients.

ODNs will be established across England and work with other organisations in the new healthcare system including Clinical Senates , academic health science networks and local professional networks.

In The Way Forward: Operational Delivery Networks, we set out the steps that need to be taken  to ensure the safe transfer of current delivery networks and ensure that local clinicians continue to come together to improve care for patients.

Sir Bruce Keogh, National Medical Director for the NHS Commissioning Board said,

“Clinical Networks are an NHS success story. Combining the experience of clinicians, the input of patients and the vision of NHS staff, they have supported and improved the way we deliver care to patients in distinct areas delivering true integration of services.

This is why the NHS Commissioning Board is building on this experience to create more networks.  This is a great opportunity to improve outcomes for patients across the country for a range of complex and specialist areas of care.  I am confident  that patients will benefit greatly from the development of ODNs as they enable consistent standards of care and the use of the latest technology and clinical evidence to improve patient’s lives”.

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5 comments

  1. Michael Vidal says:

    Simon – Thanks for this it makes things slightly clearer. However how are we to avoid mission creep so that these networks instead of being advisory do not develop into de facto commissioners. So we end up with the situation that they are actually carrying out pathway changes to improve services. I can see the danger that a network will come out with a case for change then want to act on it rather than leave it to the commissioners to decide locally what is the best option.

    Also I am not clear what is the difference between Clinical Senates and Strategic Clinical Networks they both seem t be doing the same thing.

    • Simon@NHS CB says:

      Hi Michael
      Thank you for your reply. Each network will agree an annual workplan with network members. Members will include providers and commissioners as well as patients and the public and other stakeholders such as local authorities and third sector bodies. This will ensure that network improvement priorities and activities are aligned to system priorities and tackle the areas most likely to improve outcomes for patient. As an additional assurance there will be an annual accountability agreement with the area team medical director who will ensure that the agreed workplan is delivered.

      Strategic clinical networks, funded and hosted by the NHS CB, will be specific to a condition or patient group, for example, cardiovascular disease or maternity and children’s services. Clinical Senates will not be focused on a particular condition. Instead they will take a broader, strategic view of healthcare within a particular geographic area, for example providing a strategic overview of major service change. They will be non-statutory, advisory bodies with no executive authority or legal obligations and therefore they will need to work collaboratively with commissioning organisations.

      Kind regards
      Simon

      Digital Communications Officer
      NHS Commissioning Board

  2. Michael Vidal says:

    Further to my previous comment I would ask what is the statutory authority for the creation of these networks as well as the strategic clinical networks. The provision of non specialist health services is the responsibility of CCG’s. This being the case surely it is for the CCG’s working collaboratively to decide how services that cross CCG boundaries should be commissioned. Am I missing something?

    • Simon@NHS CB says:

      Hi Michael
      Thank you for your comments. The NHS Commissioning Board (NHS CB) has recognised that clinical networks have been responsible for some significant and sustained improvements in the quality of patient care and the outcomes of their treatment.

      Strategic clinical networks and operation delivery networks are enhancements of the current clinical networks. You can find details of which organisation will be responsible for commissioning different services in our latest fact Sheet for Clinical Commissioning Groups. Clinical networks will not directly commission services themselves, but will ensure that the NHS CB and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have access to a broad range of expert clinical input to support and inform their decisions. Clinical networks will bring together groups of health professionals to support commissioners to improve services specifically for a particular condition in order to improve the quality of care and outcomes for patients.

      Strategic Clinical Networks will work across the whole NHS system to support commissioners to define evidence based best practice pathways and make improvements to services, resulting in improved outcomes for patients. They bring primary, secondary and care clinicians together with partners from social care the third sector and patients.

      Operational Delivery Networks are focussed on coordinating patient pathways between providers over a wide area to ensure access to specialist resources and expertise. As set out in The way forward: operational delivery networks, the scope of ODNs will be driven by commissioners, through a requirement in the contract specification. It will then be for the host provider and other network members to determine how best to meet the outcomes and outputs set out in the commissioning specification. To date a small number of services, mainly commissioned by specialised commissioners have been prioritised, typically relating to those services where highly specialist care is provided by a small number of providers who need to link closely with other providers providing local care, such as neonatal intensive care.

      On the question of responsibility for patient consultation relating to service reorganisation, this is the responsibility of the statutory body leading the change. This may be a commissioner or a provider depending on the circumstances. Clinical networks (of any type) may become involved if they can add value, for example by ensuring that access to specialist services is equitable across a given area. Networks help partners in a system work together to improve outcomes for patients.

      For more information, you can visit our resources for networks and senates area.

      Kind regards
      Simon

      Digital Communications Officer
      NHS Commissioning Board

  3. Simon@NHS CB says:

    Hi Paul
    Thank you for your comment. The current cancer and cardiac clinical networks will be covered within the new strategic clinical networks, to be hosted by the NHS Commissioning Board from April 2013. The NHS CB published the operating framework for strategic clinical networks in November 2012.

    Kind regards
    Simon

    Digital Communications Officer
    NHS Commissioning Board