Ministers are consulting on proposals to give commissioners budgets of at least three years to enable longer term planning.

  • DH mandate consultation proposes three year budgets for CCGs
  • Proposal comes after Simon Stevens calls for an end to the annual budgeting cycle

The suggestion appears in the Department of Health’s consultation on the forthcoming mandate – the document the department produces each year setting out its expectations of NHS England.

The consultation document, published yesterday, is for a mandate covering the period to 2020.

Simon Stevens

Simon Stevens called for an end to the annual budgeting and contracting cycle

The document said the government aimed to set a mandate with a “long term duration”. Subject to the forthcoming comprehensive spending review, on 25 November, “this would mean setting the budget [for the NHS], and therefore clinical commissioning group allocations, for three or more years.

“This should enable the system to plan more effectively to deliver our long-term aims by providing the assurance of a multi-year budget.

“Annual milestones would be specified to support delivery of the longer-term aspirations.”

The proposal comes after NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens called for an end to the annual budgeting and contracting cycle.

Earlier this month he said in a speech at the King’s Fund that the comprehensive spending review presented an opportunity to move away from “our current method of doing business”, involving “setting CCG allocations [and] going through contractual cycles”.

Mr Stevens called for longer term planning across organisations in “nascent health systems”.

This week it was revealed that NHS England’s primary care transformation fund would be governed by a “three year strategy”, and CCGs would be able to bid for funding covering more than one year.

The mandate consultation also proposes:

  • to set an objective for NHS England to support the transformation of out of hospital care “for 2016-17 this would also mean the continuation of the better care fund”;
  • to set an objective for NHS England to lead a “step change in the NHS on prevention”, particularly around obesity and diabetes; and
  • to call on NHS England to support the NHS in establishing seven day services, achieving the same safety of care irrespective of the day of admission.