Improving commissioning for long term conditions is vital to the health service’s survival, NHS Alliance chief executive Michael Sobanja has warned.

Speaking at the HSJ Managing Long Term Conditions conference in Harrogate last week, he said the area was “one of the weakest elements of the NHS” and “has got to be the phase to get right in the next two years, if the NHS is to survive”.

Commissioning should be driving the system but if we’re honest we all know it isn’t

He said: “Commissioning, after 20 years, has singularly failed to do anything in most places [other] than commission in compartments, and in some instances has been as bad as purchasing inappropriate care and solidifying what shouldn’t have continued. Commissioning should be driving the system but if we’re honest we all know it isn’t. If it doesn’t over the next few years, I think we’re going to see major changes.”

But Mr Sobanja told delegates the election result would have little short term effect.

He said: “Although you can split hairs on the policies, it seems to me that there is a broad consensus about a direction of travel for the health service in England at least, which is going to continue with a commissioning story.”

But he warned he thought NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson had “undershot” regarding the £15bn-£20bn savings needed.

“It’s at least £25bn and it’s not over three years, it’s over the foreseeable future,” he said.