CSUs provide a wide range of commissioning support services that enable clinical commissioners to focus their clinical expertise and leadership in securing the best outcomes for patients and driving up quality of NHS patient services.
This includes transformational change – such as overseeing the reconfiguration of local services – as well as transactional support – including IT, HR and business intelligence – to a range of customers including Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), acute trusts, NHS England, and local government.
Commissioning support is NHS money spent on non-clinical services and while CSUs do not provide direct patient care or treatment, the nine CSUs across England play an essential role in helping commissioners to improve patient care and achieve substantial savings, freeing up more money for reinvestment in frontline clinical services.
The competitive advantage of CSUs lies in their breadth of skills, experience, expertise and affordability. They can offer customers a wide range of professional services at scale, which are critical to successful clinical commissioning.
CSU specialist support services include:
- Contract management and negotiation
- Service transformation and redesign
- Business Intelligence
- Information governance
- Financial management
- HR, Estates, IT
- Healthcare procurement and market management
- Non-clinical purchasing
- Communications and patient engagement
- Bespoke services such as individual funding request management, infection prevention, governance and quality
CSUs are not geographically defined, this means that in some cases customers are local or regional clinical commissioners, and in others they include clinical commissioning groups in other parts of England. Some CSUs also provide services to NHS England, local government, and acute trusts. It also means CSUs are competitively positioned to work at scale across a wide geographical footprint.
In their first year of operation (2013/14) CSUs won £96 million in new business while delivering an overall margin of 5 percent. They have a collective income of £808 million and are the largest deliverer of commissioning support to CCGs.
In addition to specialist business support services, CSUs work in partnership with NHS England, commissioners, acute and community health and social care providers to develop new, and improve existing services, through innovation in technology, data intelligence, clinical pathway design, patient experience initiatives and patient information campaigns.
Currently governed by NHS England, CSUs will become autonomous organisations in 2016 and will be fully established, self-sustaining entities in a competitive market.
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