Three out of 26 commissioning support service plans have been scrapped and a further nine have been identified as needing “rigorous management”, the NHS Commissioning Board has announced this morning.

As HSJ exclusively reported last week, plans to develop a national communications service as a CSS and West Mercia CSS have been stopped. In addition, Peninsula CSS, covering Devon and Cornwall, has also been judged not fit to proceed.

CSS plans were assessed on the quality of their leadership, their business plans and their focus on clinical commissioning group customers.

The three abandoned were judged to have failed against two or three of those domains.

The following CSSs were found to have passed one or two of those domains “marginally”.

  • Greater East Midlands
  • Greater Manchester
  • Cumbria and Lancashire
  • Birmingham and the Black Country
  • Essex
  • South London
  • Surrey and Sussex
  • Central Southern (Bucks, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Gloucestershire, Swindon)
  • Hertfordshire

They will now be subject to a strict development plan under the commissioning board’s business development unit.

The remaining CSSs will proceed with “medium to low issues” in their development plan, having been found to have made good progress in all three domains.

  • South Yorkshire
  • Staffordshire
  • North West London
  • Central and East London
  • Arden
  • North Yorkshire and Humber
  • Kent and Medway
  • Merseyside
  • Cheshire, Warrington and Wirral
  • Norfolk and Waveney
  • North East
  • West Yorkshire
  • Best West (Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire)
  • CSS South (Southampton, Hampshire, Portsmouth and Isle of Wight)

Development plans are now being drawn up for all CSSs in order to get them ready to become independent organisations. New plans will be drawn up for the areas that have failed checkpoint two.

The NHS Commissioning Board statement today emphasised the need to reassure and retain staff in areas where CSS plans have been stopped.

The statement said: “For those CSSs that have ‘stopped’, strategic health authorities are already working closely with the CSS, primary care trust cluster and CCGs to ensure that robust plans are put in place and to provide the necessary reassurances to staff.

“This is to ensure that CCGs have confidence in their commissioning support arrangements and that they can choose the best service that meets their needs. It will be particularly important to ensure that CCGs have time to put these arrangements in place ahead of their application for authorisation.

“In these cases, it is clear that there will still be a significant need for locally-based staff to deliver support services to CCGs and that the main impact will be to senior management arrangements and organisation shape rather than to the roles that are available to NHS staff.”

Development plans will be drawn up “over the next couple of weeks” for CSSs found to have gaps or significant weaknesses.

These plans will be “more proactive”, with CSSs “subject to more rigorous management”. Where CSSs do not progress fast enough, the commissioning board will “re-evaluate the support it is providing and the resources it is investing”.

Checkpoint three of the assurance process will take place in August.