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Improving specialised commissioning

In our first guest blog, Jason Stamp, Chair of the Patient and Public Voice Assurance Group (PPVAG), explains the group’s role in improving specialised commissioning, the largest area of expenditure in the NHS.

The Patient and Public Voice Assurance Group (PPVAG) was established in June 2014 in order to act as a critical friend to NHS England in the delivery of specialised commissioning.

The group is made up of individual patients with experience of specialised services and key patient groups and organisations. Its role is to provide assurance that effective patient and public involvement is taking place and make recommendations as to how it can be improved.

PPVAG was developed at a time of transition and change for specialised services, which represent one of the highest spends in the NHS budget. Specialised services are provided to patients with rare and highly complex conditions and those in urgent clinical need.

It has been two years since NHS England was established and it has now begun to review how it operates. The climate is now one of considering new ways of working, delivering services differently to achieve better outcomes for patients and to work with all stakeholders to agree how limited resources can be prioritised in an open and transparent way.

PPVAG has welcomed NHS England’s intention to engage more effectively with stakeholders and to begin to have difficult conversations in public. Communication and engagement have been problematic in the past but a Specialised Commissioning Directorate has been established, including its own Communications and Engagement Team.

In its first year of operation PPVAG has made some significant progress in raising the profile of patient and public voice in specialised commissioning. You can find out more about our work on the NHS England website. I would like to encourage all stakeholders, including patients and carers, patient groups and organisations and industry, to become actively involved in the challenges and opportunities ahead.

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