A national advisory body is to be created for commissioning specialised services and treatments for extremely rare conditions.

The National Commissioning Group and the National Specialised Commissioning Group will be merged into the new body, to be called the National Commissioning Advisory Group.

It follows a three month consultation on strengthening national commissioning, which closed last month.

The group will advise ministers on which services should be designated for national specialised commissioning, which centres should provide those services and whether to renew or withdraw this designation.

It will have oversight of, and provide advice on, all national specialised services and their associated funding to ministers and the NHS.

The group may also consider a small number of technologies that may be suitable for national commissioning but fall outside the remit of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

The merger is designed to address concerns about the present system, such as the potential for conflicting recommendations to ministers.

The chair of the advisory group will be appointed by the NHS chief executive and most other members by the NHS medical director, although some will be made via a public appointments process.

The Department of Health says it aims to have the new body in place by the summer or early autumn.

Specialised Healthcare Alliance director John Murray called the move positive, saying: “We hope steps will now be taken to address weaknesses in regional specialised commissioning.”