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Modern commissioning

While commissioners have been purchasing healthcare on behalf of patients for a number of years now, commissioning has never been more important to the attainment of better health outcomes. With the transfer of purchasing decisions to clinican commissioning groups, commissioning is now the primary mechanism by which organisations with the capacity to deliver innovative and responsive services can participate in the provision of healthcare. So it is incumbent on commissioners not only to ensure their commissioning practices are fair and allow a range of suppliers to compete in the marketplace, but that supplier organisations uphold the principles of equality and fairness when delivering to the public.

Many of these challenges are not new – although the responsibilities placed on commissioners have never been more onerous. The Health and Social Care Act, for example, places statutory duties on commissioning groups to determine local health needs, promote equalities, work with local authorities (on public health, social care, safeguarding, etc), and involve patients and the public.

Our work in this area centres on helping commissioning bodies:

  • conduct demographic analyses and engagement activities that provide a sophisticated picture of communities and their genuine needs
  • design fair, effective, and robust commissioning and tendering requirements
  • facilitate productive and co-operative interagency working


The problems we’re solving

  • ensuring a diversity in supplier bases through the design of risk-led commissioning and tendering requirements
  • developing light-touch approaches to performance management that include appropriate indicators of fairness


What we’re doing
We’ve worked with a range of healthcare commissioners to develop tendering strategies, contracting requirements, and reporting protocols that are inclusive and proportionate. For example, we developed a human rights commissioning strategy for Heart of Birmingham PCT, which included an overview of some of the requirements for including human rights in service contracts with commissioned providers.

See for yourself

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What other people are saying
Our work with Heart of Birmingham PCT was highlighted as an example of good practice by NHS Employers. To read what they had to say, click here.