Press release

Commissioners must collaborate, cooperate and coordinate to make it work, says new guide

Public Health England (PHE) has today launched a new guide to the commissioning of sexual health, reproductive health, and HIV services.

The goal of ‘Making it work: a guide to whole system commissioning for sexual health, reproductive health and HIV’ is to help commissioners ensure that service users experience integrated, responsive services that deliver the best outcomes.

Commissioning responsibilities for sexual health, reproductive health and HIV have undergone major changes with the health and social care reforms. Now located across NHS England, Local Authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), the transition presents commissioners with opportunities as well as challenges.

PHE has produced this guide to support all those commissioning sexual health, reproductive health and HIV services in the new environment. Designed to complement existing guidance, this guide focuses on pulling the whole system together to make sense for the patient and to deliver best outcomes.

The guide highlights the importance of putting service users and their needs at the heart of commissioning to ensure they experience integrated, responsive services, and emphasises the importance of tackling the wider determinants of health.

In partnership with NHS England, Local Government Association, Association of Directors of Public Health, and Department of Health, the guide sets out 12 key principles for best practice commissioning. These include:

  • putting people at the centre of commissioning and basing decisions on assessed needs
  • drawing on the expertise of clinicians and service users, together with the public’s views
  • collaborating to make the best use of limited resources to improve outcomes
  • maximising opportunities to tackle the wider determinants of health

Professor Jane Anderson, PHE, said,

Commissioning responsibilities for sexual health, reproductive health and HIV have changed significantly in the past 2 years - bringing new opportunities and new challenges.

Our new guide examines how all commissioners can pull the whole system together to achieve effective partnership working, and develop and maintain high quality services via seamless care pathways.

A key message in the guide is that best outcomes for people and populations depend on collaboration and cooperation. This will only be achieved through sharing experiences of integrated working and we hope this guide plays a role in doing this.

Kate Folkard, PHE Project Lead and Programme Manager, adds,

There is no one right way - it is for commissioners to understand and use the levers and mechanisms of the current system to best effect to make collaborative commissioning of sexual health, reproductive health and HIV services a reality. This guide brings together the latest advice and experience to help them do this.

Fifteen commissioning case studies have been included providing ‘real life’ examples of whole system thinking such as the one in Berkshire, where 6 local authorities are now sharing resources to commission sexual health services, including a jointly-appointed Director of Public Health leading a shared team.

Councillor Katie Hall, of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:

We welcome this publication. It’s crucial not to lose sight of the importance of putting people at the heart of our work, and the whole purpose of greater integration across local government and health is to wrap them around the needs of people and the outcomes they want to achieve, rather than the convenience of our separate organisations.

Ends

Notes to editors:

  1. Making it work: A guide to whole system commissioning for sexual health, reproductive health and HIV is available online.

  2. The production of the guide was supported by NHS England, Local Government Association, Association of Directors of Public Health and Department of Health. MEDFASH were appointed by PHE as project delivery agent.

  3. PHE exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities. It does this through advocacy, partnerships, world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. www.gov.uk/phe. Follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk

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