It’s time to focus on making commissioning work, says new NHS England boss
A pledge to make commissioning effective and to support innovative approaches to delivering care was made by Simon Stevens in his first day in office as the new Chief Executive of NHS England
“We should be expanding the commissioning impact that high performing Clinical Commissioning Groups can have and certainly not wasting time on yet another drawn out debate about whether there are too many or too few of them,” he said.
“Let’s test new commissioning approaches – including in some geographies and for some services bringing together primary, community, and specialist care,” he said.
Mr Stevens said there was now a broad policy and consensus for radically transforming how care is delivered outside hospital. “Our traditional partitioning of health services – GPs, hospital outpatients, A&E departments, community nurses, emergency mental health care, out of hours units, ambulance services and so on – no longer makes much sense.”
He said one his priorities for action was to work out how the new GP contract will best support vulnerable older patients and to find ways of better blending health and social care for people with high needs.
But he admitted that just combining two “financially leaky buckets” would not magically create a watertight funding solution.
“So my aim is that NHS England and our local government partners get going, this year on supporting and testing some practical new models that don’t need structural re-organisation. There are many current initiatives to build on, plus some international approaches that we should now try.”
Over the next couple of months, as CCGs and provider trusts refined their new two and five year plans, Mr Stevens said NHS England will be asking – in partnership with Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority – “If you’re going to get to a sustainable and future-proofed local health system, what are some of the longstanding assumptions and constraints we’d need to say goodbye to?”
He declared: “It’s time to chart a new course. One that combines hard-headed realism about the here-and-now with a sense of shared purpose and – dare I say it – even optimism about the future.”