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Meeting new Congenital Heart Disease standards – Will Huxter

Welcome to my second blog on congenital heart disease.

As you know we are now the Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) commissioning and implementation programme, so our work is no longer about reviewing. Our focus now is on what needs to happen to meet the new CHD standards and make them a reality.

We continue to work with the hospitals and clinicians that provide care for people with CHD to look at ways to embed the agreed CHD standards from April 2016, to provide excellent CHD services now and in the future.

A lot of people have been working hard to consider how to set themselves up to meet the new standards, in some cases working quite differently and with new partners. We are very grateful for all their efforts and must acknowledge everyone’s time and expertise. For those of you not directly involved within this process it may seem that there is not much happening in the programme, but I can assure you that there is a lot going on. This is a huge job and I’m grateful for your patience and continuing support while we make this happen.

We have been working with hospitals since April on new service delivery models to meet the standards, and more recently we have been taking stock of progress to date. On 9 October 2015 we received submissions from seven proposed new networks. Since that time we have been reviewing those proposals. We were particularly interested in whether this way of working could be expected to produce an answer that worked right across the country, ensuring that every patient receives care that meets the standards.

In reviewing the proposals we have tried to be as inclusive as possible to make sure that we have the right expertise and have considered things from everyone’s different perspectives. The process involved clinicians and patient and public representatives as well as commissioning representatives from both our national and regional teams. We also had expert analytical and finance advice on the numbers. We worked closely with the clinical reference group (CRG), and the clinical chair and two of the patient representatives from that group took part in our commissioner panel, which was invaluable.

We are continuing to speak directly with the networks and sharing our findings with our engagement and advisory groups, to broaden the conversation.

It is important to remember that this process was carried out in order to take stock of progress and to allow NHS England to decide whether to continue with the current commissioning approach.

We will be making general observations about the submissions, not commenting on individual proposals and we will not be making any proposals for changes to the configuration of specialist providers at this time. The only decisions being taken at this point are on our commissioning approach. We are providing feedback so that the development of provider services to meet the standards can continue. This remains a collaborative process to address a shared challenge.

Earlier this month we met with providers and discussed the submissions and we turned our attention to the things we can work on together whatever the final arrangement of services. We also discussed the standards that come into force in April. We also broadened out our discussions and sought further opinion and advice from patient and public representatives at the Joint Engagement and Advisory meeting.

Over the next few months an enormous amount of work will need to be undertaken to prepare all the services.

On 19 January 2016, clinicians will come together to review further clinical requirements to deliver the standards and work together to offer potential solutions.

Commissioning developments will continue over the coming months and I will endeavour to keep you informed through the blog as fresh developments occur.

Programme Governance

In my last blog I explained that the new governance structure had been set up for the programme.

The CHD Programme Board has been making sure the programme is on track. At its last meeting on 18 November 2015 we discussed the review of submissions, the ‘Transition Dashboard’ that we instituted to monitor current services and progress with our work on improving early diagnosis.

At the next Programme Board on 13 January 2016 we will, among other things, receive a presentation on progress with our work on better information – there is a lot going on in this area where we are working with a sub-group from the CRG as well as with colleagues from various departments within NHS England and with HQIP and NICOR who are responsible for the national audit. Patient groups have been particularly interested and involved in this work.

Staying in touch

We have previously explained that in this new phase of our work there would need to be changes in how we let you know what’s going on. There have been some changes to the way NHS England uses its website. Some of the material now being produced is ‘commercially sensitive’ or ‘commissioner sensitive’ and therefore can’t be shared publicly.

So we are not going to be publishing as much as we did, but we will continue to use the blog to share news of our work, meetings that are happening, opportunities to engage and comment on the work that is being done, as well as reports that come from the work that we are doing.

As this part of the programme is about all of us working together to bring the standards to life, if you have news, good examples, innovative ideas please do let us know, we can share with others and it can aid all our work.

If you have any questions or queries please do make contact with the team through the email England.congenitalheart@nhs.net

Finally, on behalf of the team may I extend seasonal greetings to you all and I look forward to continuing to work with you in 2016.

We will continue to share news of our work, meetings that are happening, opportunities to engage and comment on the work that is being done, as well as reports that come from the work that we are doing.


Image of Will HuxterWill Huxter is Regional Director of Specialised Commissioning (London) at NHS England, currently chair of the NHS England Gender Task & Finish Group and Senior Responsible Officer for the CHD Commissioning and Implementation Programme.

Prior to joining NHS England in June 2014, Will worked in a range of commissioning roles within the NHS, and for five years at an NHS Trust.

He has also spent eight years working in the voluntary sector.

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One comment

  1. Sue says:

    The NHS is not a business it is a public service. I fail to see how this statement is relevant “Some of the material now being produced is ‘commercially sensitive’ or ‘commissioner sensitive’ and therefore can’t be shared publicly”. One of the criticisms of the Safe and Sustainable review was the inconsistencies between the treatment of different centres. This led to challenges to the decision making process and that historical court battle.

    I truly hope that NHS England is going to treat every centre and patients from each part of the country fairly.