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  • Author or Editor: Valerie Moran x
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Evidence, Policy and Practice

This timely book is the most comprehensive account yet of recent commissioning practice in the English NHS and its impact on health services and the healthcare system.

Drawing on eight years of research, expert researchers in the field analyse crucial aspects of commissioning, including competition and cooperation, the development of Clinical Commissioning Groups and contractual mechanisms. They also consider the influence of recent commissioning reforms on public health infrastructure.

For academics and policy makers in health services research and policy, this is a valuable collection of evidence that deepens understanding of how commissioning works.

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This chapter introduces PRUComm, the English national policy research unit in commissioning and the healthcare system funded by the Department of Health and Social Care Policy Research Programme and itsresearch programme on that subject. It then discusses the concept of commissioning in respect of healthcare in the English National Health Service. The theoretical basis for the research, being principally realist approaches to policy analysis; socio legal theory and institutional economics is then expounded and related to the research. Each subsequent chapter is then summarised.

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Chapter 9 draws together key themes arising from the book about issues raised by commissioning in the context of a quasi-market for healthcare in the English NHS, such as governance and accountability, clinical engagement, co-ordination and fragmentation. The chapter presents an overview of how commissioning in health and healthcare has developed since 2010 and what the implications are for the future in the light of recent developments moving away from market style mechanisms to forms of local collaborative planning.

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Chapter 2 provides the context, setting out the organisation and governance of commissioning in the NHS. It includes a short summary of the architecture of commissioning pre-Health and Social Care Act (HSCA12), and highlights the important changes which were brought about by the Act, including the abolition of Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities, the establishment of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), the creation of NHS England, transfer of commissioning responsibilities to different bodies (e.g. public health) and the setting up of local Health and Wellbeing Boards. The chapter also highlights the programme theories underlying the HSCA12, in particular the commitment to competition as a means of improving services and the expected benefits of greater clinical involvement in commissioning.

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Chapter 5 reports research on the more recent policy of allowing CCGs to commission primary care services. In 2014 CCGs were invited to volunteer to take on responsibility for commissioning services from their member GP practices in addition to their wider responsibilities for commissioning acute and community services. In this chapter we explore the history of primary care commissioning and financing in England, and discuss the broad policy objectives which underpinned this significant change in CCGs role and scope. These objectives include the need to move to a ‘place-based’ approach to commissioning, and the need for a more effective linkage between the commissioning of primary and secondary care services in order to support movement of services into the community. Over time, most CCGs have moved to take on full delegated responsibility for commissioning GP services, and have established functioning primary care commissioning committees, with little evidence of significant problems associated with conflicts of interest. The development of local additional ‘quality contracts’ and investment in infrastructure and premises have been important issues, with few CCGs seeking to establish larger scale contractual changes. There have been significant local legacy issues in some areas relating to unclear contracts and poor handover of responsibilities from NHS England. The current legislation, under which statutory responsibility for commissioning primary care services remains with NHS England and is delegated rather than transferred to CCGs, presented some problems, particularly for those CCGs who wished to work together across a broader geographical footprint.

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