In our response to the draft mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board, we suggest that the annual progress report needs to be credible and non-partisan, reporting on both improvement and failure.
The mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board will set out the care objectives for the improvement of health and health care. From the draft mandate, we support the Government’s determination to create a patient-centred culture in the NHS.
However, the probability that the mandate will achieve this depends on how it will be used, both by the Secretary of State and Parliament, and the NHS Commissioning Board in its role as performance manager of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), contract holder for primary care and commissioner of specialised services.
The Government should resist the temptation to develop the mandate too far and too quickly. There is already a risk of confusion by an excess of objectives
In the short-term, given the financial pressures facing the NHS and the immediate threats to the quality of services, it may be important to organise the mandate in an understandable way that clearly specifies the short-term priorities facing the NHS, as well as paving the way for longer-term clinically-led improvement, as intended.
The Government should resist the temptation to develop the mandate too far and too quickly. There is already a risk of confusion by an excess of objectives.
Related to this, the annual report on progress against the mandate needs to be a credible, non-partisan document that unflinchingly reports on both progress and failure.
It is essential that the NHS Commissioning Board makes technical annexes containing the underlying data and the methodology behind any analyses publicly available, so that all claims about progress can be independently verified.
Nuffield Trust (2012) Response to the draft mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board. Briefing.