The Health Committee has issued an invitation to submit written evidence for its inquiry into Commissioning. The deadline for submitting written evidence closed at noon on Wednesday 6 October 2010.

The last substantive report of the Health Committee in the last Parliament, published on 30th March 2010, reviewed the progress of commissioning in the NHS. Among its conclusions were the following:

o “Weaknesses remain 20 years after the introduction of the purchaser/provider split”.

o “Weaknesses are due in large part to PCTs’ lack of skills, notably poor analysis of data, lack of clinical knowledge and the poor quality of much PCT management. The situation has been made worse by the constant re-organisations and high turnover of staff”.

The Coalition has made it clear that, like its predecessor, it regards more empowered and more effective commissioning as the key to successful delivery of its objectives for the NHS.

The new Health Committee has therefore decided to follow up the work of its predecessor by holding an inquiry into how the new government intends to resolve the issues which have undermined the effectiveness of commissioning in the NHS.


Terms of Reference


The Committee is launching this inquiry in the belief that its work can contribute to the debate about the implementation of the policies for commissioning outlined in government’s White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS.

The Committee’s inquiry will focus in particular on the following themes:

• Clinical engagement in commissioning

  • How will commissioners access the information and clinical expertise required to make high quality decisions about the shape of clinical services?
  • How will commissioners address issues of clinical practice variation?
  • How will GPs engage with their colleagues within a consortium and how will consortia engage with the wider clinical community?

• How open will the system be to new entrants?

o Will care providers be free to offer new solutions which offer higher clinical quality, better patient experience or better value?
o Will commissioners be free to access new commissioning expertise?
o Will potential new entrants be free to offer alternative commissioning models?
o What arrangements will be made to encourage the Third Sector both as commissioners and providers?

• Accountability for commissioning decisions

o How will patients make their voice heard or their choice effective?
o What will be the role of the NHS Commissioning Board?
o What legal framework will be required to underpin commissioning consortia?
o How will commissioning interface with the Public Health Service?
o How will commissioning interface with Health Watch?
o Where will the “buck stop” when commissioners face hard choices?

• Integration of health and social care
o How will any new structures promote the integration of health and social care?
o What arrangements are proposed for shared health and social care budgets?

• What will be the role of local authorities in public health and commissioning decisions?
• How will the new arrangements strengthen commissioners against provider interests?

o How will vulnerable groups of patients be provided for under this system?
• How will the proposed system facilitate service reconfiguration?
• Transitional arrangements
o Will the new arrangements safeguard current examples of good practice?
o Who will drive innovation during the transitional period?
o How will transitional costs (redundancy etc) be minimized?

• Resource Allocation
o How will resources be allocated between commissioners?
o What arrangements are proposed for risk sharing between commissioners?
o What arrangements will be made to safeguard patient care if a commissioner gets into difficulty?

• Specialist Services
o What arrangements are proposed for commissioning of specialist services?
o How will these arrangements interface with the rest of the system?

While this is an extensive list, it is not intended to be exhaustive and comments on any other relevant aspects of commissioning will also be welcome.

The Committee invites short written submissions from interested organisations and individuals. The deadline for submitting written evidence is noon on Wednesday 6 October 2010.

Guidance on submitting written evidence

It assists the Committee if those submitting written evidence adhere to the following guidelines:

Each submission should:

  • state clearly who the submission is from, ie whether from yourself in a personal capacity (eg Submission from Miss Dee Dee Lee) or sent on behalf of an organisation (eg Submission from Insert Name Ltd);
  • be no more than 3,000 words in length;
  • as far as possible comprise a single document attachment to the email;
  • begin with a short summary in bullet point form;
  • have numbered paragraphs; and
  • be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible (Reports are published in black and white).

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to and have the ‘Name of the inquiry’ in the Subject line. Please note that the healthcommem mailbox is for submissions of evidence only, not for general correspondence which should continue to be directed to the healthcom inbox.

Please supply a postal address so a copy of the Committee’s report can be sent to you upon publication.

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals submitting written evidence would send their contact details separately in a covering email in a block of text laid out vertically (not horizontally). See example below:

eg: Miss Dee Dee Lee
Westminster House
7 Millbank
London SW00 0XX
Tel: 0000 000 0000 / Mob: 00000 000000

You should also be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Though there is a strong preference for emailed submissions, those without access to a computer should send a hard copy to: Committee Assistant, Health Committee, Committee Office, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA.

A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website at: Commons: Guide for Witnesses.

Please also note that:

• Committees make public much of the evidence they receive during inquiries. If you do not wish your submission to be published, you must clearly say so. If you wish to include private or confidential information in your submission to the Committee, please contact the Clerk of the Committee to discuss this.
• Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed submission, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.
• Evidence submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organisation submitting it is specifically authorised.
• Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.
• Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.

For up-to-date information on progress of the inquiry visit: