NHS England pushes on with CRG cuts despite charities’ concerns

NHS England has pushed ahead with its plans to cut the number of clinical reference groups, despite warnings from patient groups that the move would reduce the specialist knowledge the NHS has on rare conditions.

The national commissioner has however watered down plans to cut the number of clinical and patient representatives on CRGs. The groups are responsible for advising NHS England on how it spends its £14bn specialised services budget, helping it to develop commissioning policies and service specifications.

In February NHS England set out proposals to reduce the number of groups from 71 to 42 by merging many existing CRGs to create new groups covering multiple services. It also proposed reducing the clinical membership of the groups from 14 “senate” members to four regional members, and patient representatives from four to two. NHS England said the changes were aimed at creating “greater alignment of clinical advisory structures” to ensure they were focused on “agreed priorities and addressing the challenges set out in the Five Year Forward View”. However, charities such as the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, The Brain Tumour Charity and Sarcoma UK said the cuts would “dilute” the specialist advice the health service receives about rare conditions.


Full story at HSJ 28 April 2016