Macmillan Cancer Support, Arthritis Care and Epilepsy Action are among a coterie of charities that will be funded by the Department of Health to develop their skills as commissioning support organisations.
The three charities, along with other groups working in the fields of spinal injuries and rheumatology, have been chosen to work with Neurological Commissioning Support (NCS) to participate in a new programme that will help them to support health and social care commissioners.
NCS was established by the MS Society, Parkinson’s UK and the Motor Neurone Disease Association to provide advice and expertise to public sector commissioners of health and social care services.
NCS persuaded the Department of Health that patient services and value for money could be improved further if more charities were able to develop skills to advise commissioners. The Department’s Innovation, Excellence and Strategic Development Fund agreed to fund such a development programme for two years and awarded the funding to NCS in March. Other charities were then invited to bid.
The other charities that will take part in the programme are Spinal Injuries Association, Backup and Aspire, as well as the Rheumatology Commissioning Support Alliance which comprises the British Society for Rheumatology, the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society and Arthritis Care.
Ciarán Devane (pictured), chief executive of Macmillan, said: "We are committed to seeing the best clinical outcomes and patient experience for all cancer patients and firmly believe this new step will take us closer to seeing this achieved."
Sue Thomas, chief executive of NCS, said: “The voluntary sector hasn’t been seen as a credible partner for health and social care commissioning in the past, but the shift towards local commissioning provides a real opportunity to change that. Charities can reach out and engage people living with particular conditions, unlocking this previously untapped source of expertise.”
Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the MS Society and chair of NCS, added: “This programme brings charities from across the spectrum of health into the commissioning arena. Health and social care commissioning is undergoing massive change, and we see this as a tremendous opportunity to give a strong and compelling voice to those we represent.”
An initial grant of £56,500 will cover the first year of the two-year project. The grant comes out of the DoH’s £3.3m 2011/12 Innovation, Excellence and Service Development Fund, which will support 57 projects around the country.