Specialised services are those services provided for relatively rare conditions in relatively few specialist centres to populations of more than one million people.
Specialised services are either commissioned regionally, by the 10 Specialised Commissioning Groups (SCGs) - one SCG per SHA - or nationally by the National Commissioning Group (NCG). Specialised commissioning is defined nationally. The definition can be accessed via the department of health website. Detailed information on specific definitions, including the new Third Edition definitions, is also available from the specialised services commissioning website.
North East specialised commissioning group
The North East Specialised Commissioning Group (NESCG) has delegated responsibility for commissioning a range of specialised services on behalf of primary care organisations (PCOs) across the North East. The NESCG membership comprises all the chief executives from the PCOs across the North East together with directors from the SHA. The NESCG held its first meeting in May 2007 where the formal arrangements for the group were agreed along with its scheme of delegation and terms of reference.
The NESCG plans specialised health services for a population of approximately 2.8m (2.5m North East Strategic Health Authority (NESHA), and 0.3m North Cumbria).
North East specialised commissioning team
The NESCG is supported by the North East Specialised Commissioning Team (NESCT), an integrated management team hosted by NHS North of Tyne. NESCT is responsible for leading the day to day commissioning of most specialised services in the North East and also commissioning services on behalf of North Cumbria residents at the request of the North West SCG. It is responsible for planning, procurement, performance monitoring and performance management of specialised services. NESCT informs and supports the Specialised Services Directors Group (SSDG), a sub-group of the NESCG, chaired by the director of commissioning of the North of Tyne PCOs.
The SSDG is responsible for driving the detailed work of specialised commissioning. It comprises the directors of commissioning of the PCOs, a director of public health, director of finance, a SHA representative, the mental health commissioning lead for the North East and a representative from the North West SCG. As the SSDG is a sub-group of the NESCG, it refers matters that require a higher level of debate as well as binding collective decision making issues to the NESCG.
A specific consequence of the local restructuring of specialised commissioning is that specialised mental health and learning disability services and rarer cancer services commissioning are now supported separately from NESCT. Specifically in relation to specialised mental health and learning disability services, a new team was established in the North East called the North East Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Commissioning Team.
This team formally took over commissioning responsibilities for all specialised mental health and learning disability services, as well as mental health services at other levels, including forensic services, from NESCT on 1 July 2007. Similarly, the North of England Cancer Network took on responsibility for rarer cancers to ensure seamless coordination for all cancer services commissioning. Both of these teams remain directly accountable to the NESCG in relation to the specialised services element of their remit.
The structure of specialised commissioning in the North East