National Programmes of Care and Clinical Reference Groups

What are national programmes of care?

The specialised services commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement have been grouped into six national programmes of care (NPoC). Each has an NPoC that coordinates work across the services in that programme of care.

The six NPoCs have been identified as:

The following four NPoCs are grouped together as acute programmes of care:

Each NPoC brings together clinical and commissioning leadership, an empowered patient and public voice, and policy expertise to:

  • Contribute to the development and delivery of strategy and policy objectives, such as the NHS Long Term Plan.
  • Support regions to commission specialised services which meet population needs, provide consistently high-quality care and excellent patient experience, as part of an integrated care system and patient pathway transformation.

The NPoCs principally operate through a network of affiliated clinical reference groups and task and finish groups.

What is a clinical reference group?

Each NPoC has several clinical reference groups (CRGs) to provide clinical advice and leadership for specialised services. These groups consist of clinicians, commissioners, public health experts, patient and public voice (PPV) representatives and professional associations which offer specific knowledge and expertise to advise NHS England and NHS Improvement on the best ways that specialised services should be provided.

CRGs lead on the development of clinical commissioning policies, service specifications and quality standards. They also provide advice on innovation, horizon scanning, service reviews and guide work to reduce variation and deliver increased value. CRGs, with the support of their PPV representatives, also help to ensure that any changes to the commissioning of specialised services focus on the needs of patients and the public.

Clinical reference groups not affiliated to a specific NPoC

Most of the clinical reference groups (CRGs) are linked to specific NPoCs for guidance and oversight. However, several CRGs have developed over time and stand alone. These are:

The CRG works across all the service-specific CRGs. One of its key roles, working with experts from around the country, is to ensure that the systems and levers currently in place for the procurement, selection and use of medicines in secondary care are as effective as possible in supporting patients to take their medicines; in reducing harm from medicines while ensuring best value.

Getting involved with clinical reference groups

  • NHS England and NHS Improvement welcome the involvement of interested members of the public and health care staff in the work of the CRGs and is keen to work with all stakeholders including individual patients and carers, charities, patient groups, staff from service providers and commercial organisations.
  • If you would like to get involved you can become a registered stakeholder. You will be kept up to date about the work of the CRGs as well as having the opportunity to get involved in a range of ways.