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NHS England today launches a new consultation about how it will prioritise which specialised services and treatments to invest in. Patient groups asked it to consult on changes to the principles and process by which it makes these decisions.
NHS England directly commissions around 145 specialised services. In order to ensure the maximum number of patients benefit from new innovative treatments coming on stream, choices need to be made about which of these to fund.
In carrying out a public consultation, NHS England will ensure the principles and process for making these decisions are well informed, evidence-led and in line with the expectations of patients and the public. The consultation will last for 90 days from 27 January 2015.
Richard Jeavons, Director of Commissioning Specialised Services at NHS England, said: “We want to ensure patients have access to the very best innovative, evidence-based treatments and services that are being developed all the time. We need to get the most out of every pound for the benefit of patients. They asked us to consult on the principles and process behind making these decisions, which is exactly what we are doing.”
This process is looking at the specialist treatments and services that will be routinely available for groups of patients on the NHS. Clinicians, on behalf of their patients, will continue to be able to make a request (an Individual Funding Request) to NHS England for treatment that is not routinely available.
NHS England is also undertaking an engagement exercise to seek views on which specialised services should be prioritised for ‘service reviews’ as part of a rolling programme of reviewing how each specialised service is delivered. NHS England is writing to all providers of specialised services, Clinical Reference Groups and associated patient groups seeking their views on where to concentrate efforts over next 12 – 24 months. A number of engagement events and workshops are also being planned. Views on which areas to prioritise for service reviews can also be emailed to us.
NHS England also said today that it has listened to patients and clinicians and would continue national commissioning of specialist renal and morbid obesity services in 2015/16. It said it will keep under review whether to transfer responsibility to clinical commissioning groups, but any changes would not happen before April 2016.
Commenting on the decision to continue commissioning specialist renal and morbid obesity services at a national level, Richard Jeavons added: “We all want what is best for patients, and we have listened extremely carefully to their views and those of CCGs. For the time being we will continue to directly commission these services, which will give us head room to work through the proposals in more detail and address the issues that have been raised with us.”