New quarterly publication Specialised Commissioning is a must read journal for healthcare managers with a wide focus across the commissioning pathway.

The budget for specialised services currently stands at £16.6 billion for 2017-18. This has increased at a significantly higher rate than other areas of the NHS primarily because it is under an arguably increased pressure due to the rising demands for services that are already provided. Whilst there is not going to be a change here anytime soon with ageing populations, the current healthcare climate must also see this as being a significant time for discovery and innovation with advances in medical technology, drugs and devices that clinicians, patients and the pharmaceutical industry continue to push to introduce into the NHS every year. What is clearly evident is that specialised commissioning by its very nature is highly complex, therefore there is certainly a place for a journal of this nature.

Championing success, Specialised Commissioning will include feature articles and interviews stimulating debate through the sharing of diverse perspectives on policy and practice development from the entire sector including NHS England, NICE, commissioners, patient groups and charities. Not only will this highlight the issues but will also provide updates and guidance to take forward a alternative approach as well as showcasing innovation and best practice relevant to specialised healthcare.

The first issue is a highly interesting read from a plethora of areas. In one article, the Chair of the Specialised Healthcare Alliance Lord Sharkey outlines the importance of patient involvement in decision making mechanisms and service reform using the work of the alliance. Nevertheless, it is recognised that there is a need for greater transparency in this to ensure that there is confidence in the processes and the lessons that we can all learn.

The NHS England New Care Models programme National Lead Jacob West also features within exploring what is underpinning the acute care collaboration vanguards work as they test models of joint working which could form the blueprint for widespread change. Highly valuable learning is expected here yet at the same time we need to be mindful when considering whether these will be ‘easily’ replicable across systems given differing governance and organisational forms as well as the differing relationships (which may hold the key to success) between commissioners, regulators and on a local level.

Further within the journal is an exploration of how clinicians and commissioners can take forward value-based approaches in partnerships with patients is made by Dr Lawrence Goldberg Chair of the South East Clinical Senate and Consultant Nephrologist. He speaks about changing our focus to delivering ‘value’ – in essence achieving the best patient centred outcomes for the expended resources. For this to truly become a reality, it would need a re-definition of what are meaningful outcomes and would lead to more active participation with patients. Values will depend on outcomes that improve individual peoples lives. Could it become a reality? Its worthy of debate but will certainly require new outcome measures, support, training and better health economics. Perhaps delivering ‘value’ in this way will be the key to providing sustainable services within the NHS for the next 70 years?

As healthcare professionals with a role or interest in specialised commissioning, you can view the first issue in full online here Specialised Commissioning November 2017 Issue 1 and also sign up to receive further publications by visiting