NHS England sets out how it will assure commissioners are best meeting the needs of local people

NHS England has today published assurance frameworks for CCGs and direct commissioners.

The frameworks set out how NHS England will assure that CCGs and NHS England’s own direct commissioning functions – which include primary care, specialised services, health screening and immunisation services, services for members of the armed forces and health and justice services – are operating effectively to commission safe, high quality and sustainable services within their resources.

Both assurance processes will be carried out through quarterly discussions based on six identical domains, which enable a broad assessment of delivery, capability and organisational health. The domains focus on whether patients are actively engaged, are receiving clinically commissioned, high quality care, whether CCGs are working collaboratively, delivering better outcomes for patients and whether they have robust leadership and governance in place.

Dame Barbara Hakin, Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chief Executive at NHS England, said:

“This process will be a continuous assessment of CCGs’ and direct commissioners’ capacity and capability to meet statutory and planning requirements, meet the needs of local populations, reduce health inequalities and provide the best possible outcomes for local people in the most cost effective way.

“The assurance frameworks will build on what CCGs and direct commissioners are already doing and are designed to support them to become the best commissioners they can be.”

The CCG Assurance Framework has been co-designed with CCGs and other key stakeholders, and will fulfil NHS England’s statutory responsibility to conduct performance assessments of each CCG.

The same high level of scrutiny will be applied to NHS England’s direct commissioning responsibilities, with the Direct Commissioning Framework outlining arrangements for the robust assessment of how well direct commissioning functions of area teams are performing against plans to improve services and deliver better outcomes for patients.

While CCGs had an established, consistent baseline of expected performance through the authorisation process, the assurance of services directly commissioned by NHS England’s area teams is at an earlier stage and will begin with a comprehensive baseline exercise using the CCG authorisation criteria.

Both frameworks provide a nationally consistent format while recognising the need for local context to play an important part.

The assurance process will identify the development and support needs of CCGs and direct commissioning teams, as well as the mitigation of any identified delivery risks.

The Department of Health will also conduct an annual assessment of NHS England’s performance including the extent to which it has met the objectives set out in the Mandate.