In the NHS treatments and care for patients are provided free at the point of service. While in hospital and for certain categories of patient, medications are also free at the point of service. However, not all treatments and medications are routinely funded by the NHS. This is because the effectiveness of certain procedures and medications can vary amongst patients and in these cases can do more harm than good. It is also possible for the population to be given excessive healthcare that weakens its self-reliance and independence while receiving little or no healthcare benefit.
In addition, the NHS must make sure it is using its limited resources to maximum benefit for each patient it treats and the population it serves as a whole. It must also ensure it is using the most effective and accepted medical procedures. NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), as local guardians and commissioners of the NHS, must prioritise the services it is able to fund and commission. This means making decisions about which healthcare services will and will not be provided under the NHS in their area.
In order to provide the best care and treatment and to make best of use of its limited resources, each CCG is obliged to publish the clinical policies it uses to make these decisions. The clinical policies identify the treatments that will not normally be provided and where prior approval is needed before such treatments can take place. Prior approval is sought through a process known as Individual Funding Requests (IFRs) in which a GP/Consultant must demonstrate that their patient is an exception to the policy and should receive the treatment concerned.
The eight Clinical Commissioning Groups in Lancashire (please see below) are working together to review their clinical policies. They are seeking to make clinical decisions and the individual funding request process consistent and fair across Lancashire. As part of this process clinical policies are being amended and updated and brought into line wherever possible across the CCGs. This includes reviewing the principles upon which all the policies are based.
Patients, the public and other stakeholders need to be involved and informed about this process. Initially, this will be concerned with the underlying principles which support the clinical policies. After this, the various policies will be open to scrutiny and comment, as and when they are developed.
Following feedback the amended and updated clinical policies will then need to be approved by each Clinical Commissioning Group before they can be adopted for use on a daily basis.
In the first instance, you are invited to attend a public forum to learn more about the Statement of Principles and give your views on them. Your comments will be fed back to the CCG and the working group as part of the development process.
Further opportunities will be made available for your involvement and feedback, including surveys and further public forums/focus groups on individual clinical policies (such as Cosmetics, IVF, Tonsillectomy) as and when they are developed and available for discussion.
The clinical commissioning groups in Lancashire are:
- NHS Lancashire North
- NHS East Lancashire
- NHS West Lancashire
- NHS Blackburn with Darwen
- NHS Fylde and Wyre
- NHS Blackpool
- NHS Greater Preston
- NHS Chorley and South Ribble
Link to online survey: https://www.elesurvey.co.uk/f/613697/1785/