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Health Services

Question for Department of Health

UIN 202919, tabled on 27 June 2014

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will make it his policy that there should be equality of access to treatment for patients in England with specialised conditions.

Answered on

7 July 2014

Since April 2013, NHS England has been responsible for the commissioning of services that have been identified as specialised. NHS England's role is to ensure that the National Health Service delivers better outcomes for patients requiring these specialised services in a consistent manner across the country.

NHS England is committed to commissioning and planning a healthcare system that seeks to reduce health inequalities. In line with the UK Strategy for Rare Diseases, NHS England promotes equity of access to allow everyone with a rare disease to follow a clear, well defined care pathway, in order to achieve high quality services for every individual through integrated personal care plans. The aim is to ensure no one gets left behind just because they have a rare disease.

NHS England has advised that the review of specialised services commissioning was initiated at the start of May and will run for an initial period of three months. Dr Paul Watson, Regional Director for the Midlands and East Region, is leading the specialised commissioning taskforce. National discussions took place at the end of April and the taskforce was established in April 2014 in order to make some immediate improvements to the way in which NHS England commissions specialised services, and to put commissioning arrangements on a stronger footing for the longer-term. This taskforce comprises of seven distinct work streams, which will focus on financial control in 2014-15, and planning for the 2015-16 commissioning round. The seven work streams each have a distinct portfolio of work, some of which is short-term, and some of which includes looking to the future and the development of a sustainable and effective model of specialised commissioning.

Around 50 additional individuals, from different disciplines, have been drawn from across NHS England, coming together to support intensive, focussed attention in a number of these work streams.

There are aspects of the work which will require engagement with clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). In consultation with the Commissioning Assembly, a specific working group has been established to enable the joint discussions with CCGs to take place. The first meeting of this group was on 4 July.

NHS England advise that there are currently no plans to consult on the outcome of the work of the taskforce.

Answered by

Department of Health and Social Care