Commissioning support units (CSUs) could be tasked with assisting local authorities and the NHS Commissioning Board (NHS CB) in procuring services.
Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, told members of the Health Select Committee in an inquiry into public expenditure, that there is “potential” for CSUs to provide commissioning support to local authorities in commissioning social care and public health as well as the NHS CB in securing specialist care and primary care commissioning.
Managing director of both Essex and Herfordshire CSUs, David Stout said Farrar’s proposal was “definitely feasible”.
“In Hertfordshire there is already an integrated approach to commissioning in areas such as mental health, which is jointly managed between the CSU and the council,” he said.
“You could undoubtedly see CSUs provide support to other outside agencies. The business of the CSU isn’t solely restricted to the CCG.
Stout said there are some services the NHS CB is buying from collaboratives of CSUs across the country in areas such as communications and HR functions but said there is “a degree of ambiguity” around whether the board’s local area teams (LATs) will be able to buy services from their local CSUs.
An NHS Commissioning Board spokesperson said: “We are clear that local authorities have a key role to play in future commissioning support arrangements, particularly where existing joint arrangements mean there is a requirement to support both the CCG and the local authority. In putting commissioning support units in place, we will aim to strengthen joint working and we are working closely with local government partners to achieve this.”