Over the last twelve months I have had the pleasure of working with many fantastic individuals as we made the final preparations to transfer commissioning of healthy child services from the NHS to Local Government. Local government have had responsibility for commissioning 5-19 services since 2013, but this final transfer of commissioning services for 0-5s, is the final part of the jigsaw, and will enable local authorities to consider the public health needs across all children in their areas, whether babies or young adults.
As an NHS commissioner I am proud of the work we have done to give our children the best start in life through the healthy child programme and I know, having seen commissioning teams across health and social care working together on the transfer that commissioning for our children will go from strength to strength under the leadership of commissioning by Local Authorities.
Put simply, commissioning is the process of arranging services within the resources available. Services which are continuously improving, deliver the best possible quality and outcomes for patients, meet health needs and reduce inequalities. Great commissioners are expert in involving people so that they can really influence services to meet needs and preferences. They also ensure the full range of input, so that the widest group of professionals’ expert knowledge aids the design of the best services. They know how to commission services where individual patient’s views are central to treatment decisions. They know how to secure services which mean that minority and vulnerable groups are not disadvantaged. They are able to monitor quality, not only outcomes, but also patient safety and service user satisfaction. They work closely with all partner agencies to ensure services are joined up and focus on the service user.
And over the last twelve months as I have seen our NHS England teams working with Local Authorities I am optimistic that as local authorities pick up the mantle of commissioning this final set of children’s services we have much to build on. We have some excellent relationships, partners across health and social care, with a shared purpose of achieving great outcomes for our shared population. Where services deliver the best for our children there is a great sense of working together, being “greater than the sum of our parts”, commissioning and delivering together. We are all bound by our interest in the health of our population.
We must continue to ensure our shared sense of purpose continues as Local Authorities take on the commissioning leadership role for these services. And we in health, whilst not directly commissioning the services, will be keen to play our part and support health communities. CCGs play a leading role in the local health system and will be a key partner for local authorities, understanding, like LAs, the needs of the population. Health and Well Being Boards provide the opportunity for partners to come together to respond to the needs of the population. And for us in NHS England, well we will do all we can to support the system to commission ‘high quality care for all, now and for future generations’.
Alex Morton, Director of Commissioning System Change, NHS England