Learn the lingo series: "NHS Commissioning Board"

Written by Jyothis George on 29 September 2012. Modified on 03 October 2012. Hits: 75301

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The NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB) is an independent national organisation that will be responsible for ensuring the NHS delivers better outcomes for patients from April 2013. They will provide leadership around the new commissioning system and will be accountable for the delivery of improvements in the measures set out in the NHS Outcomes Framework.

 In addition to this, the NHSCB will be responsible for roughly £20bn worth of commissioning, including primary care and specialised commissioning, and will be accountable for Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) who will commission the majority of healthcare in England.

The NHSCB will employ roughly 3,500 staff. Of these, 2,500 will work on local teams; 200 will work at the regional level; and 800 will be nationally focused. The NHSCB will be led by the current Chief Executive of the NHS, Sir David Nicholson. He will head a team of five executive directors: Nursing director, Medical director, Director of Commissioning, Development, Director of finance, performance and operations. Alongside the executive directors, several non-executive directors will sit on the board. They will provide expertise and advice from a number of different industries such as the voluntary sector, finance, retail and the public sector.


The creation of the NHSCB was first proposed in the health White Paper, published in July 2010. This laid foundations for the NHSCB to assume those functions held by PCTs, which could not be provided by CCGs, such as primary care and specialised commissioning. They will also develop commissioning guidance, standard contracts, pricing mechanisms and information standards.

The NHSCB will performance manage all CCGs to ensure they are financially stable and achieving the outcomes required of them. If any emerging CCGs do not pass authorisation, the NHSCB will commission on their behalf until they are capable of taking on their commissioning responsibilities.


To reflect the general move from disease- specific quality measurements to a focus on outcomes across broader areas, the disease-specific National Clinical Directors will be replaced by five National Leads covering each of the five NHS Outcomes Framework domains:

  • Preventing people from dying prematurely
  • Enhancing quality of life for people with long-term conditions
  • Helping people to recover from episodes of ill health or following injury
  • Ensuring that people have a positive experience of care
  • Treating and caring for people in a safe environment and protecting them from avoidable harm

The Department of Health will issue a Mandate which will set out those areas where it expects the NHSCB to deliver improvement over a set period.As the NHSCB will be the body responsible for delivering improvement in outcomes at a national level, the Government will use the NHS Outcomes Framework to hold the NHSCB to account. To help achieve the required outcomes, the NHSCB will use tools such as the Commissioning Outcomes Framework (COF) and NICE Quality Standards to ensure outcomes are being achieved at the local level by CCGs.

The NHSCB will be represented at the regional level by four ‘commissioning sectors’ which reflect the geographical boundaries of the current four SHA clusters. These sectors will provide clinical leadership and manage the Local Area Teams. There will be 27 Local Area Teams that will commission primary care services, including pharmacy services; assess the performance of CCGs; and manage the NHSCB’s local relationships. In addition, 10 of the 27 Local Area Teams will be responsible for specialised commissioning. The NHSCB estimates that on average, there will be eight CCGs per Local Area Team.

Editor's note: This article has been generated from information kindly provided by Sanofi Diabetes. Please also note that the article is not regularly monitored and may become less accurate over time as things evolve. Please see this section for the latest news on NHS, reforms etc.

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