Report exposes NHS England’s failures on managing specialised services

The National Audit Office has exposed another NHS organisation for system-wide failures – poor financial controls, disjointed services, incomplete data and staff with the wrong skills. The culprit is NHS England and its commissioning of specialised services. Specialised services are huge business for the NHS, consuming almost £15bn last year – about 14% of the total NHS budget – and slated for 7% growth in 2016-17. Around 300 health organisations provide at least one specialised service, which cover everything from specific mental health problems to chemotherapy.

The ability of NHS England to manage this budget is crucial – if it cannot control the costs, it will impede the adoption of new treatments and technologies while sucking yet more money into the hospital sector.

NHS England took control of specialised service commissioning from the strategic health authorities in 2013. For trusts struggling to maintain staff numbers it may come as a shock to find in the NAO report that the number of NHS England full-time equivalent staff involved in commissioning specialised services has jumped from 287 to 489 in just two years, taking costs from £20m to £38m.

Full article at The Guardian 29 April 2016