National charities are expecting to become major suppliers of commissioning support in the restructured NHS, HSJ has learnt.

Charities including Diabetes UK, Macmillan Cancer Support and the British Heart Foundation are all planning to work increasingly closely with commissioners to supply intelligence and help redesign services. Meanwhile, Neurological commissioning Support, a social enterprise supported by charities including the Multiple Sclerosis Society and Parkinson’s UK, is expecting its paid-for commissioning support service to grow.

Macmillan is planning to write to all clinical commissioning group leads in March to explain its offer.

Macmillan’s director for England, Stephen Richards, told HSJ that the charity was able to bring together data on cancer prevalence and outcomes with information on local services “to build a picture of the state of play in a locality”.

This would enable it to offer “a series of insights and intelligence, and service improvement skills”.

He said Macmillan’s network of nurses and doctors around England meant it had access to a unique level of specialist expertise and input from patients.

The charity is already working in London on a programme to support patients to live more independently, and in Manchester on a redesign of lung and breast cancer pathways. But the reforms presented an opportunity to “step up a level”, and Mr Richards said he would like to work with all commissioners, preferably at no cost to the CCGs.

Neurological Commissioning Support chief executive Sue Thomas said: “I hope [the reforms are] an opportunity to get more involved. CCGs seem to be more conscious of better quality care than what we have seen in the past – there is a genuine interest from them about their patient population.”

Ms Thomas’s organisation works with partner charities to gather information on services from patients and combines this with analysis of NHS datasets. “We can come up with an efficiency solution that can provide better quality care – with patients part of the decision.”

Although neurological conditions have not been identified as a priority area by many commissioners, Ms Thomas said specialist groups such as hers were able to explain the effect of underlying neurological conditions on emergency admissions and length of hospital stay.

Quality, innovation, productivity and prevention workshops are planned later this year. The organisation is already supplying paid-for services, and Ms Thomas expects this part of their business to increase as CCGs become more established.

“We’re confident we could bring a totally different perspective to the private sector firms,” she added. “I think we can compete – we have much more of a service user focus”.

HSJ also understands the Richmond Group of 10 leading health charities is planning a report on charities becoming more involved in commissioning, set for release this spring.

Meanwhile, the British Heart Foundation is planning to develop guidance for commissioners on models of care, and Diabetes UK has launched a commissioning guide setting out the core components of good diabetes care. Chief executive Baroness Young said the charity’s service improvement arm was “willing to talk to whatever show is in town” but was not  yet planning a paid-for service.