Commissioning and Procurement in the NHS

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2009 Health Care Service Group Conference
17 April 2009

Conference notes the government’s World Class Commissioning programme which aims to transform the way health and care services are commissioned in England.

Conference expresses its alarm that much of the focus of the World Class Commissioning programme is about stimulating the market and finding alternative providers to the NHS We restate our continued opposition to the use of the private sector in the commissioning and provision of healthcare and our belief that only publicly funded and accountable services will deliver quality healthcare for all, regardless of ability to pay.

Conference expresses its further concern that engagement with the whole healthcare team does not form a part of the World Class Commissioning programme, despite this being one of the most fundamental ways of improving services. Commissioning bodies at Primary Care Trust level need to engage with healthcare staff at provider level to ensure appropriate quality standards are built in to all commissioning exercises. The introduction of wider commissioning powers causes huge uncertainty for our members and more needs to be done to engage them in the process at an early stage.

Conference believes that the lack of staff engagement and the increasing use of the private sector will have a detrimental impact both on the standards of care delivered to patients and on the terms and conditions of staff delivering health services.

We recognise that the outsourcing of the PCT commissioning arm, itself as allowed for under Framework for Procuring External Support for Commissioners (FESC), could exacerbate this situation even further.

Conference welcomes the huge progress the union has made in producing guidance and training for regions and activists on commissioning and procurement. However more needs to be done to support our branches in dealing with the challenges ahead.

Conference therefore calls upon the SGE to:

1.Ensure that branches and regions are enabled to build up their expertise to deal with commissioning and procurement through the training and guidance available from the union, including support in getting paid release (including backfill) to attend training;

2.Issue guidance on influencing the commissioning process at an early stage and in making links with patient and service user networks for joint campaigning work;

3.Press the government to ensure that NHS employers recognise that workforce engagement is seen as fundamental to the delivery of an effective NHS and that regions and branches can participate fully in the processes at an early stage;

4.Support and enable branches to continue to fight for the best terms and conditions for members when they are transferred to other providers and no less favourable terms for new starters; and

5.Negotiate a guarantee of permanent protection of terms and conditions and NHS pension rights for any staff transferred from the NHS to non-NHS providers.