Development plans for the current 23 NHS Commissioning Support Service (CSS) organisations have been outlined by the NHS Commissioning Board.
Following its ‘Checkpoint 2’, which three CSS providers did not get through, the Board has identified CSS priorities including better customer engagement, gaining CCG buy-in and clarifying need for external help.
A commissioning support simulation exercise highlighted ‘key learnings’ from the independent sector, such as long-term planning and customer focus.
Sir David Nicholson, NHS Chief Executive, said that CSSs were “critical to the success of the new NHS commissioning system”, and that they would guide the Board authority as well as the new CCGs.
He also highlighted the importance of support for communications and commercial engagement, saying: “We will be seeking a new business model that provides appropriate connectivity across the system based in common NHS values, principles and behaviours.”
The 23 NHS CSSs will receive individual development plans outlining the progress they need to make in preparation for ‘Checkpoint 3’ in August. A range of issues to be addressed have been identified, including: lack of management, planning and urgency; lack of customer engagement and CCG buy-in; and lack of clarity over costs, pricing and external help.
A ‘hub and spoke’ model will be developed in June and July to link all CCSs and CCGs together with local communications and engagement services, with four to six hubs spread across England.
A real-time CSS simulation exercise identified the need for relationship development, clarification of responsibilities and contingency planning – as well as ‘key learnings’ from the independent sector including risk management, long-term planning and customer focus.
Joe Rafferty, Director of Commissioning Support, commented: “Overall, we know from Checkpoint 2 that CSSs are on track, but clearly there are some key areas – such as supporting those CCGs which want to exercise their choice of commissioning support, and ensuring CSSs provide greater innovation – which need further development.”