The new Congenital Heart Disease review: 43rd update

Since the publication of this blog John Holden has left NHS England.

Welcome to my final blog for the congenital heart disease review; a blog in two parts. In the second part of this blog Will Huxter, the senior manager now responsible for the work, will introduce himself and explain how NHS England is taking things forward.

In Blog 42 I explained that a report on the review’s conclusions would be taken to the NHS England Board on 23 July. The full report is available to view with a video of the NHS England Board.

The Board agreed all the recommendations made by the review.

Specifically, the Board:

  • agreed the proposed model of care and service standards and specifications
  • agreed the proposals relating to earlier diagnosis and improvements in information
  • noted the analysis of the required service capacity
  • agreed proposals for commissioning the service and for implementation, including monitoring and management of adherence to the standards

The Board’s decision brings to a close two years of review and – importantly – means that we now have the standards and specifications we need to commission the service in 2016/17 and beyond.

Transition to commissioning and implementation

We have been talking for a while now about ‘the long handshake’ – a phrase we have used within NHS England to describe the managed transfer from one team to another, as we move from a formal review process, to implementing the review’s conclusions. I think it would be a stretch to say it’s “business as usual” – there are still significant questions to be resolved about how the hospitals that provide CHD care will respond to the strengthened standards. But commissioning over £12bn of specialised services is one of the core activities of NHS England, and it is the right thing for CHD that we take it out of the endless cycle of review, and bring it back into the mainstream. So – as I explained at our last big engagement meeting in London on the 13 July 2015, there are some changes to the faces that you will see at meetings, but also some continuity… Michael Wilson remains the Programme Director and is supported by his team.

I would like to welcome my colleague Will Huxter, who will now lead the CHD Commissioning and Implementation Programme, as the Senior Responsible Officer.  Will has been involved with our work on CHD for some time, as part of the previous Programme Board, and so he is very familiar with the work to date. He has a wealth of experience from existing and previous roles, and is currently the Regional Director of Specialised Commissioning (London), and Chair of the Women & Children’s Programme of Care Board. 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. As you can see I leave you in excellent hands.

None of the progress that has been made over the last two years would have been possible without your expertise, goodwill, commitment, and patience. Thank you

Congenital Heart Disease Commissioning & Implementation: Blog 1 – Will Huxter

Thumbnail image of Will HuxterWelcome to the new CHD Commissioning and Implementation Programme. Our job will be to ensure that the decisions made by the NHS England Board are implemented. We are a commissioning organisation so commissioning will be our main tool to achieve this. While many of the people who have been involved in the work to date will carry on, including the NHS England team led by Michael Wilson, we have some new programme arrangements to oversee and steer the work.

Already we have set up a new Programme Board which officially received handover from the review at its first meeting on 09 September 2015. Papers from that meeting are now available.

The Programme Board reports to NHS England’s Specialised Commissioning Oversight Group (SCOG) and board level oversight is provided by the Specialised Commissioning Committee (SCC).

Providers of services have continued with the work outlined in the last blog by Chris Hopson (CEO of NHS Providers) ; Chris reported on the work that hospitals are doing together to consider how best to set themselves up to deliver services that meet the new service standards and specifications. That work is continuing, and NHS England will be taking stock of progress by asking for submissions describing the emerging proposals. A set of templates to guide the responses has been devised, and are due on the 09 October 2015.

During October and early November we will be considering those submissions. We will make sure benefit is added from the expertise of patient and their representatives and specialist clinicians, drawing on the membership of Clinical Reference Groups and Programme of Care Board’s clinicians for that expert advice.

This will not be a scoring process but a way of taking stock of progress to help decide what the next steps are for us in commissioning. We will feedback to providers later in November 2015.

Future dates for your diaries.

Following the discussion about what has worked and what hasn’t, we are thinking through our approach to involvement, participation and communication for this new phase of our work. More on that next time, but for now there is one long standing date in the diary – we are planning another meeting of our Engagement and Advisory Groups on 09 December 2015. We will report on progress, what we learned from the submissions and our early thoughts on next steps.

What next?

I will be reporting continued progress of the programme through the blog and continuing to make available the papers from the Programme Board and Engagement and Advisory Groups as John did during the review.

The contact details to reach the programme team still remain the same:

Those of you that have opted to receive blog updates will continue to receive notifications from this mail box.

So as the nights draw in, we will continue to work hard to make sure we meet our shared aim, of ensuring that every patient can benefit from services that meet the new standards.

My commitment to you is to make sure that you are well informed about what we are doing and able to participate appropriately. I look forward to meeting you at future meetings – please do come up and introduce yourself.

Image of Will Huxter

Will Huxter is Regional Director of Specialised Commissioning (London) at NHS England and currently chair of the NHS England Gender Task & Finish Group.

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.

John Holden was previously Director of Policy, Partnerships and Innovation, since the publication of these blogs he has left NHS England.

One comment

  1. Adam Foster says:


    I would like to say as a patient with CHD many thanks for your hard work and dedication, especially in producing these excellent and informative blogs.

    I wish you all the best for the future.