Role of the voluntary sector in providing commissioning support

This report looks at what role the voluntary sector can play in providing commissioning support to commissioners and commissioning support units, and what the challenges are.

The voluntary sector can offer valuable commissioning support expertise to commissioners, specifically around needs-assessment, business intelligence, service re-design, and public and patient engagement.

Voluntary organisations’ in-depth knowledge of specific conditions or population groups, and close connections with service users, can be of great value to those charged with achieving excellent commissioning where the health and care needs of the population are met.

NHS England’s vision in achieving high-quality commissioning is that expert commissioning support should come from a range of providers, including voluntary sector organisations.

It is clear that the voluntary sector offers a range of expertise and should be a part of the commissioning process. However, increasing their participation requires the attention of all the stakeholders involved Holly Holder, report author and Fellow in Health Policy at the Nuffield Trust

Commissioners, commissioning support units and the voluntary sector are enthusiastic about expanding its role in the provision of commissioning support. However, commissioners’ knowledge of the voluntary sector can be limited and the sector itself needs to be clearer about what they can provide.

Role of the voluntary sector in providing commissioning support explores what support clinical commissioning groups and commissioning support units want and need from the voluntary sector and what the ‘value-add’ is; what commissioning support services the voluntary sector can offer; how a partnership between the voluntary sector and commissioners can uniquely help to resolve challenging scenarios commissioners encounter; and the necessary steps to ensure strong collaboration between commissioners, commissioning partners and the voluntary sector.

This report has been researched and written by the Nuffield Trust, who were commissioned by Macmillan Cancer Support and partner organisations NHS England, Neurological Commissioning Support and ACEVO (Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations), as part of their collective work to explore the role of the voluntary sector in the new commissioning structure.

To find out more about our work in this area, and access related resources, visit the project: Supporting the development of clinical commissioning groups and NHS England

Suggested citation

Holder H (2013) Role of the voluntary sector in providing commissioning support. Research report. Nuffield Trust.