NHS England leads the National Health Service in England. It’s an independent body whose main role is to set the priorities and direction of the NHS, whilst at the same time improving health and care across England. NHS England was created in 2013 as part of sweeping reforms aimed at improving services by increasing competition, cutting red tape and keeping the government out of the day-to-day running of the NHS.
The duties and responsibilities of NHS England
NHS England is responsible for commissioning NHS primary services such as GPs, pharmacists and dentists, including military health services as well as some specialised services. It also sets a lot of strategies and acts like something of an NHS headquarters. NHS England manages about £100 billion of the overall NHS budget and ensures that organisations are spending these funds effectively.
Other roles and responsibilities of NHS England include commissioning services at a national level, such as specialised services, offender healthcare, and some services for the armed forces. As a single organisation, NHS England has 27 Area Teams across England, which serve as kind of regional offices that work to ensure the overall system of NHS-funded services works well. NHS England also devises plans to keep improving the commissioning for specific conditions or patient groups, such as children’s services.
Clinical commissioning groups
A lot of NHS England’s resources are allocated to clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) who, in turn, identify local health needs and commission most secondary care services such as planned hospital care, rehabilitative care, urgent and emergency care, community health services, mental health services and learning disability services. NHS England cascades information and guidance through regular publications to deliver its vision throughout CCGs in the UK.
CCGs are local health services that are led by groups of GPs. They are supported by commissioning support units (CSUs) which are also hosted by NHS England, and support CCGs to fulfil their commissioning duties. Still with us? Good - we’re nearly there! NHS England is responsible for working with CCGs and CSUs to plan the structure of certain services. If these services are commissioned on a national level, NHS England leads the way in coordinating and planning key bodies in local areas.
NHS England’s objectives
The main goals and objectives of NHS England are for everyone to have greater control of their health and wellbeing, and to be supported to live longer, healthier lives with high-quality health and care services that are constantly improving. One way they are doing this is through their strategic vision for the NHS and its partners called the NHS Long Term Plan. The Long Term Plan focuses on preventing, identifying and delivering improvements in health care, and is redesigning the NHS so that it continues to meet the needs of the patients whilst ensuring it is financially stable and continuing to engage with the public throughout the whole process - so not too much to ask, then!
NHS England also published its Five Year Forward View strategic vision in 2014 about the future of healthcare. It shows that they are serious about preventing, identifying and delivering improvements in healthcare, as well as delivering high-quality care for all - both now and in the future. The Forward View calls for more of a focus on preventing people from getting ill in the first place by giving patients more control of their own care, as well as trialing new models of care aimed to get different services working together to provide joined-up care for patients. Basically, the Five Year Forward View was designed to help meet the needs of increasing numbers of people who need support in managing long-term health conditions, such as the elderly, and has so far been trialled in 50 different vanguard sites across England.
NHS England and healthcare market research
There’s currently a lot of change going on in the NHS which throws up a lot of unanswered questions, making healthcare market research more important than ever before. Thanks to the complicated structure and a lack of clarity about the roles and responsibilities of NHS England, it can be difficult to know who to access for market research and how to reach them. And as with all high-level positions, if you are carrying out research with NHS England, you will be most likely be working with small sample sizes and working with professionals who are time-restricted. As a result, we tend to find that small, qualitative studies using online methodologies that can fit in around busy schedules tend to work best.
The NHS never stays the same for long, and the way that different organisations within it work are always changing, so it’s important to stay up-to-date with who does what. That’s why we’ve put together our researcher’s guide to the NHS, so you can have access to the detailed knowledge you need to inform your research. From the structure and roles and responsbilities of NHS England to who you can recruit for your healthcare market research, we cover it all. You can access the guide here.