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DH to ‘relook’ at value of clinical senates

The DH is to ‘relook’ at the added value of clinical senates, the NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh has revealed.

Challenged by a GP commissioner at today’s NHS Alliance annual conference on their introduction, Sir Bruce said ‘nothing was caste in stone’.

Dr Mike Eekelaers, a GP and clinical lead for central Manchester CCG said: ‘I struggle to see how senates will add value to the system.’ He described how in Manchester there was a board of primary and secondary clinicians with local authority representation set up before the reforms to develop services in an integrated way. ‘I believe it’s at that level we need the integration on clinical thinking and that this proposal on senates is step too far. I don’t think we can afford it. I’m not conscious there’s any enthusiasm for it either. So at the time of austerity I’m not sure about the value it brings.

Sir Bruce responded:  ‘I think you’ve got a good point and we’re getting to the business of that. So they have to exist with a purpose and they’ve emerged from the Future Forum discussions. My job as medical director in this is to say OK it’s come from the Future Forum, the Government has said we’re going to have senates but we need to relook at that and look at exactly what that purpose is and make sure that it adds value. And I think there’s still a lot more: discussion to be had around that so please don’t think that anything is caste in stone here because it really isn’t.’

In his presentation to the conference, Sir Bruce described two key functions for senates as being to provide ‘reactive and proactive consensus’ and to be a ‘conduiit of communication’ between CCGs and the NHSCB.