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Clinical senates to cost and design services

The Government has revealed that groups of doctors and nurses in 'clinical senates' will design services and set new tariffs for NHS providers, in the small print of the health bill changes published today.

The Government today published full details of proposed changes to its NHS reforms, and laid out where changes will be made to the Health and Social Care Bill following its acceptance of the core recommendations from the listening exercise.

The paper to parliament confirms key changes to the reforms first announced last week, and outlines the need for 'significant amendments' would be needed to the legislation. But it said this would not require the entire bill to be sent back to Parliament.

It said amendments will be required for changes such as re-naming GP consortia 'clinical commissioning groups' (CCGs), and requiring each body to appoint at least one nurse and one hospital consultant onto their boards.

But other changes, such as the relaxation of the April 2013 deadline for full handover, the phased introduction of Any Qualified Provider, would not require changes to legislation.

It includes more detail on the creation of new clinical senates (which will not require amendments to the bill), which the Government said would be responsible for 'developing service specifications, designing new tariffs for NHS prices, or working with NICE to design commissioning guidelines' alongside existing clinical networks.

The document provides additional detail on key changes, including the stipulation that patients will retain the legal right to drugs and treatments recommended by the NICE beyond 2014 after value-based pricing has been introduced.

The Government also outlines that CCGs will be responsible for arranging emergency and urgent care services within their boundaries, and for 'commissioning services for any unregistered patients who live in their area'.

Announcing the changes today, health secretary Andrew Lansley said: 'It was right that we took the time to pause, listen, reflect and improve our plans and I believe our proposals are now stronger thanks to this process.

'I have accepted the recommendations from the team of top health experts because they will improve care for patients. The last few weeks have shown broad agreement that there is an overwhelming case for a modernised NHS, and that the principles of putting patients at the centre, focusing on results and putting professionals in charge are the right ones.'

'I believe the revised plans we set out today will both safeguard the future of our NHS, and ensure it is more efficient and more accountable, moving us closer to having a high-quality health service that puts patients at the heart of everything it does.'