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What is Commissioning?

The NHS is in transition and there is much debate about what is commissioning and more importantly is the NHS any good at it? This is not a new question; every reorganisation since 1991 has considered the same question. However, in my view commissioning is about making informed choices to meet a set of circumstances that will give me an outcome I desire.

Whether we realise it or not we are commissioning all the time: What shall I buy from the supermarket? Should I go on holiday? Where shall I go? What mode of travel shall I take and how much am I prepared to pay? Will I be satisfied with the decisions I made and did I have the best holiday I could having made all those choices? These questions all inform my commissioning decisions – if you don’t know where you are going how will you know when you get there?

So why do we pose the question “what is commissioning” when it comes to the most important aspect of our lives – our health and wellbeing? I think the main difference is that as an NHS commissioner you are making decisions that will affect other peoples’ lives and using other peoples’ money – i.e. taxes to fund it. The NHS is complex – every decision has a consequence; a decision in one part of the service will impact on another; there is a finite budget so don’t be too eager to part with it unless you know what you are getting for it and more importantly it’s what you want – it’s your desired outcome!

So what is commissioning – it’s a fundamental aspect of everyday life and an intrinsic part of our culture - and in this case underpins society’s decision to have a universal health service free at the point of use. 

Why not sign up for our What is Commissioning course today?

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