Specialised services

What are specialised services?

Specialised services are those provided in relatively few hospitals, accessed by comparatively small numbers of patients but with catchment populations of usually more than one million. These services tend to be located in specialised hospital trusts that can recruit a team of staff with the appropriate expertise and enable them to develop their skills.

NHS England is responsible for commissioning £15.6 billion of specialised services to meet a wide range of health and care needs. These include a range of services from renal dialysis and secure inpatient mental health services, through to treatments for rare cancers and life threatening genetic disorders. The commissioning of specialised services is a prescribed direct commissioning responsibility of NHS England.

Four factors determine whether NHS England commissions a service as a prescribed specialised service. These are:

  • The number of individuals who require the service;
  • The cost of providing the service or facility;
  • The number of people able to provide the service or facility and
  • The financial implications for Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) if they were required to arrange for provision of the service or facility themselves.

The ambition of NHS England is to bring equity and excellence to the provision of specialised care and treatment. This is achieved through a commissioning process which:

  • is aligned with the priorities of NHS England as set out within the NHS Mandate and the strategic way forward within the Five Year Forward View;
  • is patient-centred and outcome based. The patient must be placed at the centre of planning and delivery. Commissioners, working with providers, must deliver improved outcomes for them across each of the five domains of the 2013/14 NHS Outcomes Framework;
  • is fair and consistent throughout the country, ensuring that patients have equal access to services regardless of their location, and;
  • Improves value, productivity and efficiency.

The Specialised Commissioning directorate of NHS England takes a consistent approach to central planning of specialised services which is delivered locally. It works to raise the standards of care for all patients receiving treatment for rare and specialised conditions, ensuring that patients have equal access to services regardless of their location.

Contact us

For any general enquiries about specialised commissioning, please email the specialised commissioning team.

If your query relates to a Clinical Reference Group, please email England.voice-crg@nhs.net.

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