The Way Forward: Clinical Senates

This document published by the NHS Commissioning Board (NHS England from 01 April 2013) outlines the role that Clinical Senates will play in providing strategic clinical advice and leadership across a broad geographical area to clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), health and wellbeing boards (HWB) and the NHS Commissioning Board (NHS England from 01 April 2013) from April 2013.

Download: The Way Forward: Clinical Senates

Clinical Senates will span professions and include representatives of patients, volunteers and other groups. They will work with Strategic Clinical Networks, Academic Health Science Networks, Local Education and Training Boards and research networks to develop an alignment of these organisations to support improvements in quality.

Map of Clinical Senate boundariesThe NHS Commissioning Board (NHS England from 01 April 2013) has divided England into 12 areas, broadly based around major patient flows into specialist or tertiary centres. The footprint of each area maps onto CCG and local authority boundaries. There will be one Clinical Senate for each geographical area. The 12 geographical areas are illustrated on the map opposite (click to view a larger version).

The type of strategic advice and leadership Clinical Senates will be able to provide includes:

  • engaging with statutory commissioners, such as CCGs and the NHS Commissioning Board to identify aspects of health care where there is potential to improve outcomes and value. Providing advice about the areas for inquiry or collaboration, and the areas for further analysis of current evidence and practice
  • promoting and supporting the sharing of innovation and good ideas
  • mediating for their population about the implementation of best practice, what is acceptable variation and the potential for improvement with AHSNs for a specific part of the country. Based on evidence and clinical expertise, they will be able to assist in providing the public profile on service changes
  • providing clinical leadership and credibility. Understanding the reasons why clinical services are achieving current clinical outcomes and advising when there is potential for improvement through significant reconfiguration of services
  • taking a proactive role in promoting and overseeing major service change, for example advising on the complex and challenging issues that may arise from service reconfiguration within their areas
  • linking clinical expertise with local knowledge such as advising on clinical pathways when there is lack of consensus in the local health syste, and
  • engaging with clinical networks within a geographical area.