NHS England work

Wheelchair services are commissioned by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). NHS England aims to support CCGs in improving wheelchair services through three specific pieces of work. These are:

  • Establishing a new dataset
  • Developing a new national tariff
  • Supporting commissioners

Each of these is described described in more details below

Data collection

NHS England is introducing a new national wheelchair dataset.  There is no central information on the volume, expenditure, access to, or patient experience about wheelchair services to enable transparency and benchmarking. NHS England is therefore establishing a national data collection to enable the gathering and dissemination of data that can be used for benchmarking and improving the commissioning of wheelchair services and outcomes for wheelchair users. There is virtually no area of service delivery in health care which has been improved without there being first this data.

Until waiting times for surgery were collected, there was no comprehensive improvement in waiting times. Until data was collected on the number of hospital acquired infections, there was no comprehensive improvement in infection control. So the importance of establishing – for the first time – a mandatory data collection is not to be underestimated.

The data collection questions have been developed through significant discussion and feedback from wheelchair service providers, wheelchair users, the National Wheelchair Managers Forum, CCGs, the November wheelchair summit, the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network and others.

Data will be collected quarterly from CCGs from July 2015 onwards and will enable use of transparent data to drive improvements.

Tariff pilot

NHS England is piloting a tariff for wheelchairs. This is intended to allow commissioners the flexibility to move away from simple contracts. It will support more advanced commissioning by increasing transparency, driving service improvement, increasing efficiency and better aligning resources to service user needs. The Department of Health started work to develop a tariff that could be used by the NHS to commission non-complex wheelchair services and NHS England is now working with both providers and commissioners to test the proposed currency model through a pilot data collection. Activity and costing data is being collected from 10 wheelchair service providers for six months. Subject to the outcomes of the pilot, the intention is to roll out the currency in 2016/17.

Good commissioning

NHS England is working with Clinical Commissioning Groups to support them in improving their commissioning of wheelchair services.  A network of CCG leaders to be champions committed to improving wheelchair services locally is being built, through whom the aim is to create the momentum for change, share good practice and drive change and learning.  To support CCGs in commissioning, a number of practical tools are being developed including a suite of case studies showcasing good practice in services; a ‘top tips’ document for commissioners; a case for change for improving wheelchair services and a model service specification.

Rosamond Roughton, Director of NHS Commissioning, is the champion for wheelchair services within NHS England.

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