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Blog: patient insight a key issue for commissioners

1 July 2015

The devolution to Greater Manchester is still a hot topic so it’s no surprise that it was the focus of Commissioning Live Birmingham’s opening panel session.

The devolution to Greater Manchester is still a hot topic so it’s no surprise that it was the focus of Commissioning Live Birmingham’s opening panel session.

Alex Heritage, a member of the team that drafted the memorandum of understanding for the devolution to Greater Manchester (GM), spoke freely of how he feels GM will thrive as it can now work to the beat of its own drum. No longer having to answer to ‘Londoncentric’ planning it can work for its population. He said: “I recognise the government took a big step. We want the greatest and fastest improvement for the citizens of Greater Manchester.”

The devolution has caused a ripple effect across the country with many outside the county adapting to the new structure. Paul Chandler, north regional director of Monitor, readily admitted, “Monitor needs to be smarter in how it regulates Greater Manchester or create a new model to regulate”. The audience, fully aware that something similar may take place in their own region, welcomed this insight into how the devolution in Greater Manchester is taking shape so far.

The session on Reaching and understanding your population created debate in stream 2, chaired by man of the moment, population health expert, Sir Muir Gray.

Gray kicked off the stream by asking the audience what the meaning of value was. Answers ranged from financial to subjective value. Ultimately it was concluded that there are three types of value: allocative value, technical value and personalised value. And when commissioning for your population these values should be remembered.

Further concerns around this topicwere raised in Understanding and engaging with the needs of your patient population. A delegate summed up the situation on the ground saying: “It’s difficult to engage with the different groups we represent and to connect to the communities.” Don Redding, director of policy, National Voices, emphasised that to achieve value you need to know your patient population. How is this done? According to Redding “by engaging with people as individuals and working out what is best for them, as well as having partnerships with your community sector”.

Understanding patients is a key concern for commissioners. “With commissioning it’s all about data,” said Professor Mayur Lakhani chair of NHS West Leicestershire CCG and chair of the National Council for Palliative Care, in his session, A new approach to compassionate end of life care. But with his GP ‘hat’ on patient communication is a top priority. In Lakhani’s session on palliative care he discussed the challenge in bringing the “dying back into the home” and making sure that end of life care was discussed with patients. He explained the importance of the GP in helping to organise a patient’s final days. He said, “a GP is like a conductor of the orchestra”.

Talking with patients was also echoed by Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England’s national clinical director for mental health, in the final keynote session. Discussing mental health she promoted the need to talk with patients who are repeatedly being detained under the mental health act. “Yes, we do need the mental health act, it protects people,” she said. “But when it is used multiple times to detain a patient” discussions need to be had with the patient in order to see why this keeps happening. “Repeatedly detaining people is expensive on finances and an individual’s emotions.” She highlighted that while having mental health in the spotlight is a good thing, more must be done to keep it there. There are now, according to Strathdee, 150 CCGs that have been through a mental health leadership programme.


Commissioning Live took place on 30 June 2015 at The National Conference Centre, Birmingham. To find out more about the next event aimed at Clinical Commissioning Groups and those that work with them visit




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