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SHCA reaction to NHS England's specialised commissioning prioritisation response


On Friday 26th June, NHS England published its response to the recent consultation on ‘investing in specialised services’. The consultation ran for three months, closing in April 2015, and sought views on a set of principles to guide prioritisation of investment in specialised services by NHS England.

As part of Friday’s publication, a paper prepared by the University of Essex summarises the 278 consultation responses received by NHS England. The document conveys a clear consensus from respondents on a number of issues, most prominently the need for greater transparency on the part of NHS England’s specialised commissioning function and the requirement for a swifter policy development process.

NHS England’s response to these substantive points is disappointingly brief, but further work on the processes used within specialised commissioning was promised for the summer. The SHCA’s consultation response and those of its members are cited within the report.

Separately, a major point of concern for patient groups has been the longstanding absence of a mechanism for limited access to specialised treatments for patients in urgent need in cases where a national funding decision is yet to be taken by NHS England.

On 11th June NHS England published a new standard operating procedure for funding requests for clinically critically urgent treatment outside established policy. While the publication of this mechanism is an important step, a number of concerns persist on its fitness for purpose. The SHCA has produced an initial analysis of the document here.