A decision to recommend that renal dialysis services should be devolved to clinical commissioning groups is to be reconsidered because incorrect patient population data was used by NHS England, it has emerged.
The Prescribed Specialised Services Advisory Group, which advises ministers on what services should be commissioned nationally by NHS England, last year recommended that renal dialysis should be transferred to CCGs.
However, ministers have asked the group to look at their recommendation again after it emerged that NHS England provided the group with an incorrect figure for the number of patients using the service.
NHS England told the panel that about 46,000 people required dialysis each year, whereas the correct figure is nearer to 23,000.
The number of people using a service is one of the criteria the group uses to decide whether it thinks it should be commissioned nationally or locally, so the revised figure could potentially result in a different outcome.
NHS England had mistakenly used the number for those receiving “renal replacement therapy” a year, which includes both patients on dialysis and an additional 23,000 people who have received a kidney transplant.
NHS England was alerted to the error by the British Kidney Patient Association and other kidney charities when it ran a consultation on the proposed transfer over Christmas and the New Year.
In January NHS England announced it would not be proceeding with its plans to transfer responsibility for dialysis and morbid obesity services to CCGs in April.
The arm’s length body said it had “listened to patients and clinicians”, and that the decision to transfer the services would be kept “under review” with no changes happening before April next year.
The statement made no mention of the incorrect figure or the fact the advisory group had been asked to reconsider their initial recommendation.
When the advisory group justified its initial recommendation, it specifically referred to the 46,000 figure, which it said was “high”.
In its response to NHS England’s consultation, the British Kidney Patient Association said that “based on the correct figure… we believe there are no grounds to change commissioning arrangements for dialysis due to patient numbers”.
Fiona Loud, the charity’s policy director, said it was unclear whether the new figure would change the recommendation.
She said: “I would like to think they may consider a different recommendation to the one to take dialysis down to the level of local CCGs.”
A spokesman for NHS England told HSJ that a date had yet to be agreed for the group to reconsider its decision.
He stressed that NHS England had already independently asked the Department of Health not to make the transfer of commissioning responsibilities occur this year given the other matters that CCGs were dealing with.
The spokesman added that NHS England was confident patient population figures provided for other specialised services were correct.