It is a simple truth that the NHS needs to transform to be fit for the future and, as our recent analysis Steering towards strategic commissioning has shown, clinical commissioners are playing a key role in doing just that.

Since their inception, clinical commissioners have been working hard with partners to find ways to improve healthcare including:

  • Focussing on the prevention of ill health rather than waiting until people need a cure
  • Increasing care outside of hospitals and closer to patients’ homes
  • Working with local authorities to improve community integration of health/social care

There are challenges facing the drive to transform the NHS for the better – among these the finances. The NHS provides high-quality, cost-effective care, but its ability to continue doing so will be restricted if we can’t prioritise the areas that get the best outcomes for patients, while also getting best value for limited budgets. Work to support this includes our joint consultation with NHS England on 18 treatments that cost £141m a year.

We recommend these 18 treatments should no longer be routinely prescribed in primary care, because they are either:

  • Of relatively low clinical effectiveness
  • Clinically effective but, more cost-effective items are available
  • Clinically effective but, due to their nature, low priority for NHS funding.

The list was initially developed in partnership with our member’s pharmacy and clinical leads and further refined through work with NHS England.

While this will make a difference, it’s only part of what’s needed; the NHS is being asked to deliver an awful lot. Clinical commissioners are certainly up for the challenge of creating a transformed, sustainable and high-quality system, working with partners across health and care, but this will involve tough decisions and an honest conversation with the public and politicians about what can realistically be delivered with the finite funds available.