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CCGs to fund clinical senates

CCGs are to fund clinical senates as they help pave the way for local services to be reorganised, the national clinical lead for commissioning has revealed.

Dr James Kingsland told a recent Westminster Health Forum event the 'value added' on which senates would be judged by taxpayers and patients over the next two years, is in how they help CCGs tackle complex areas of care 'the heavy lifting, the difficult discussions about the reorganisation of their hospital service.'

Asked if CCGs would have to pay for clinical senates, he replied: 'I think there will be at least some sort of co-funding. I think more and more CCGs will be expected to fund some part of their senate.' He added: 'If a senate has helped to reconfigure a service that has made a major cash release, that may be funding the very organisation that supports them.'

Dr Kingsland said a particular area requiring senate input would be 'estates redesign'. 'If we are going to move a huge amount of low tech, low complex work back into the community from our patients, at some point the biggest release of cash in the NHS is by closing estates and it is not for a single CCG to do that. That will be a strategic plan where senates will have to be advising about the reconfiguration or reorganisation of some of the estates. I think senates are going to have a significant role where we're doing that resource release.'

At the same London event, Dr Donal Hynes vice chair of the NHS Alliance, said senates would help overcome CCGs frustration at not being able to enact major strategic change 'because of powerful providers'.

'That is where they(CCGs) will turn to clinical senates who then have a real purpose and a real function, and it will happen.'

He added: 'I think if we do that we can get it right and therefore I might suggest that the whole of the funding of the senates in particular, will be dependent on the CCGs. In other words if they are successful in meeting the needs of the CCG they will be funded, if actually they are not serving the needs of the CCGs and the local population, perhaps they should be allowed to wither on the vine.'

Clinical senates were announced as a result of the Future Forum listening exercise to introduce more voices to local CCG decisions, particulary from secondary care.

There are expected to be 15 senates covering the whole of England. The DH is yet to publish a review on clinical senates.