NHSCB draft mandate supports ‘independent’ NHS

 The draft mandate for the NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB) will require the Board to make CCG autonomy and patient choice its major priorities.

While drawing on the NHS Outcomes Framework, the draft mandate avoids setting objectives for specific clinical conditions, saying that CCGs should have the flexibility to identify local clinical priorities.

Clinical senates and clinical networks are identified as “sources of advice” for CCGs, who will be able to decide for themselves and source other advice providers.

The primary task of the NHSCB remains the authorisation of “as many CCGs as are willing and able” by April 2013.

Our NHS Care Objectives: A Draft Mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board outlines 22 objectives for the NHSCB for the two years from April 2013, as well as ‘ambitions’ for the decade following.

Launching the draft document, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: “Today we will be laying the foundations of the new, more independent NHS” – meaning an NHS “free from constant political interference” and “tasked with continuously improving the care that patients receive”.

The document confirms the Quality Premium incentive scheme, a bonus payment rewarding CCGs who achieve a surplus on their annual budget. This incentive was heavily criticised by GPs during the ‘listening exercise’.

However, one objective that reflects feedback from GPs is to ensure that NHS commissioning supports the integration of care.

Objectives focused on patient choice include the availability of personal health budgets and the right of patients to choose another provider after waiting 18 weeks for elective treatment.

The final mandate will be published in the autumn.