The Specialised Services Commissioning Innovation Fund (SSCIF), which was set to invest £50m in the development and adoption of new treatments, has been suspended just weeks after the application deadline by NHS England.
In a statement published online earlier this week, James Palmer (pictured), National Clinical Director, Specialised Services, announced that NHS England had “made the difficult decision not to proceed with the SSCIF as this programme sits outside the mainstream commissioning responsibilities on which we need to focus.”
He cited “unplanned expenditure” as the cause for the fund’s suspension, but stressed that the NHS would “remain committed to both leading and facilitating the uptake and spread of innovation and will seek ways to reinstate the fund in future years.”
The SSCIF was an idea generated during the general review of innovation that Prime Minister David Cameron called for at the end of 2012. Upon the formal announcement made in August 2013, NHS England outlined its hopes that the SSCIF would “significantly improve and speed up the process of adopting new innovations”.
Prior to the fund’s suspension, over 600 NHS and non-NHS applications had been received from those working across a diverse range of areas, all hoping to secure support for their research work with a view to developing new ideas and treatments. Many applicants are reported to be frustrated with the last-minute suspension and John Murray, Director of the Specialised Healthcare Alliance, deemed the announcement “bad news for people with rare and complex conditions”.