Private companies are being invited to a series of NHS events to help design commissioning support arrangements which will apply after primary care trusts are abolished.
The NHS regional commissioning development leads hope an event planned in the North West this week will be replicated in other regions and at national level.
Potential commissioning support providers - including those from the voluntary sector, private companies and local authorities - have been invited.
The events are expected to help policymakers decide “the key policy drivers that need to be in place to deliver the nature and pace of change needed and intended” by the government’s commissioning reforms, according to documents seen by HSJ.
Potential support providers are likely to be looking for a framework similar to the framework for procuring external support for commissioners designed by the Department of Health to encourage contracts with PCTs.
Suppliers are also seeking information on the type and size of deal likely to be on offer.
Last month HSJ revealed US support firm Humana was planning to close its UK business, citing lack of prospects for supporting commissioning consortia as one of its reasons.
At present it is unclear how much support work will be taken on by former PCT staff.
The latest DH guidance for PCT clusters says they will “ensure continual availability of commissioning capacity” and “provide a mechanism to enable high quality NHS staff to move to new roles [including] commissioning support arrangements, including minimising unnecessary redundancy costs”.
NHS North West commissioning development director Joe Rafferty, one of the national leads developing commissioning support, said it was important to allow arrangements to be developed by all those with an interest.
The process would see “the best of public, voluntary and commercial sector skills blend to create a commissioning system focused on delivering real improvements for patients”.
Mr Rafferty said: “In some people’s minds commissioning support is there only to relieve consortia of some duties.
“But we need to think about how it can enable them to do new things much more innovatively.
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