Commissioning support

An effective market will bring strong incentives for commissioning support providers to be responsive to their customers’ needs, to develop innovative services that enable CCGs to drive improvements in patient services and provide value for money.

There are three key elements to the strategy:

1. Enabling CCGs to exercise informed choice of how they source their commissioning support and from whom.

2. Building a strong cohort of excellent commissioning support providers. NHS Commissioning Support Units (CSUs) are currently the mainstay of commissioning support. NHS England is committed to investing in their development, encouraging and enabling partnership working and collaboration, and assuring their development with the aim of CSUs being autonomous by no later than 2016. Two partnership agreements have been launched alongside the strategy:

3. Ensuring the establishment of simple, efficient procurement mechanisms which enable fair and open competition.  Alongside the strategy, NHS England has also published a procurement guide which explains the process commissioners need to follow should they wish to choose an alternative commissioning support provider. In addition, to ensure the NHS adopts the best approach to procurement, NHS England has also today launched an engagement exercise with  key stakeholders on proposed options to support CCGs and others to procure commissioning support simply and effectively, for example through new framework agreements.

In the autumn, NHS England will publish an update on the progress made across the key building blocks of the strategy along with the second stage of the strategy to describe  the process and next steps for giving NHS CSUs full autonomy.