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No right of place as clinical senates begin recruiting

By News team

NHS clinical senates will spend until the end of March 2013 recruiting for council and assembly members.

Clinicians involved in developing the advisory bodies have been told to develop a membership that is multi-professional and which spans a variety of different provider and commissioning organisations. However, pharmacists will not have a right of place.

The NHS Commissioning Board, which is co-ordinating the development of England’s 12 clinical senates (see Panel), says membership "is not intended to be representative". It adds: "Members should possess appropriate experience, be held in high regard in their respective fields, and have proven evidence of strategic abilities. The guiding principle must be to engage patients and the public in all the clinical senate’s work."

Clinical senate councils

In a strategy document published last week (25 January 2013), the NHSCB states that clinical senate councils should comprise standing members from:

• Clinical commissioning groups

• Community, primary, secondary and tertiary care organisations (multi-professional clinicians)

• NHSCB local area teams

• Public health

• Social care

• Public and patient groups

• Network clinical directors

• The corresponding network support team (a senior manager)

Experts will also be invited to inform the senate’s work "as required". These should encompass a wide range of clinical professions, the ‘birth to death’ spectrum of NHS care, and the five domains of the NHS Outcomes Framework, the NHSCB stipulates.

Heidi Wright, policy and practice lead for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, pointed out that clinical senates will require strategic evidence-based advice on medicines. "Pharmacists will be able to provide this," she said, adding that pharmacists could approach their local pharmacy forum, local pharmaceutical committee or local professional network to find out what level of pharmacy involvement is planned.

"Another useful approach would be to draw on relationships with your local GPs or secondary care practitioners to see if they are involved and suggest ways of providing integrated support around medicines to help improve patient care," she suggested. "To be honest, we are all keen to see how this will work and the senates are so new there’s no defined pathways for involvement yet."

Local area team medical directors will lead the appointment process, which will be overseen by the NHSCB regional medical and nursing directors.

What are clinical senates?

Clinical senates will be established across England from April 2013 to provide strategic clinical advice and leadership to CCGs, health and wellbeing boards and the NHSCB.

Their aim is to provide a broad, strategic overview of health and healthcare for local populations across a wide area and incorporating a variety of health and wider care perspectives. Activity areas may include:

• Identifying potential to improve clinical outcomes and value

• Promoting and supporting the sharing of innovation and good ideas.

However, clinical senates will not be able to veto the activities of the CCGs or be involved in assessing the performance of commissioners.

There will be one clinical senate for each of NHS England’s 12 geographical areas. 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2013.11116071

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