This project seeks to bring the voices of the people of Brighton and Hove to important topical health issues like funding cuts, NHS privatisation and the broader link between local health commissioners and national funding policy directives. Researchers from the universities of Brighton, Essex and Surrey collaborated on the project which addresses the disparity that has arisen between some current commissioning practices and public values.
Recent research on the functioning of local healthcare commissioning since the passing of the Health and Social Care Act (2012) (HASC) reveals a number of problematic issues. Many of these concern the constitution and activities of the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). In key guidance documents issued to CCGs on governance, it is recommended that CCGs have a responsibility to ensure that patients and the public are actively involved in commissioning arrangements. However CCGs are also accountable to multiple other agencies.
Recent reports from clinicians across England, documented in the British Medical Journal, describe dysfunctional commissioning processes in areas undergoing competitive tendering, with compromised patient pathways and where cost-efficiency seems to be the overriding concern.
Patient participation groups, the current prominent feedback mechanism, are considered fragile and variable, poorly defined and with no evidence to suggest they have been effective in securing engagement at practice level. As such there is a need to look for additional ways through which to engage with the public, beyond the traditional set-piece consultations.
Recent research suggests that health care professionals, including commissioners, do not feel CCG policies reflect their own views and that they have very little chance to impact CCG’s policy decisions. There is strong evidence that patient participation is linked to better treatment results, higher patient satisfaction and more responsive services.