HSMC – February 2016

Welcome to the new look Health Services Management Centre (HSMC) monthly update. We set out here highlights from our current programme of research, teaching and leadership development, with a focus on decision-making and priority setting in tough financial times.

As the NHS faces the most difficult financial settlement in its history, HSMC is committed to ensuring that our work offers evidence-based, practical and timely insights to support healthcare managers and clinicians as they tackle significant challenges in balancing care quality and affordability. Our ground-breaking research on decommissioning health care is profiled this month, along with our series of policy and research workshops for clinical and managerial leaders in the Midlands, and new whole systems leadership programmes for health economies wishing to plan and transform care in a robust and collaborative manner.

We hope that this bulletin will prove helpful to you in your work, and we welcome feedback on its format and content.

How can Choosing wisely help address the NHS financial challenge?

This was the topic of discussion at a recent HSMC and Healthcare Financial Management (HFMA) seminar attracting senior clinicians and managers from across the West Midlands region. Participants heard from Professor Sir Muir Gray, Director of Better Value Healthcare, who laid down the challenge about the need to reorientate our health system and practice towards value for patients, and the population. This was followed by a presentation from practising GP and advisor to NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), Dr Tessa Lewis, who shared experience from Wales of implementing the Prudent Healthcare programme which aims to get greater value from healthcare systems for patients.
Visit the HSMC website to read the full article >

International Conference on Priorities in Health comes to Birmingham: 7–9 September 2016

The University of Birmingham is delighted to be hosting the biennial conference of the International Society on Priorities in Health on 7–9 September 2016. The conference is being organised by HSMC in partnership with the University’s Health Economics Unit, and will feature keynote and parallel sessions from international academic and practitioner experts from across the globe. The conference is designed to offer research-based insights for policy makers, practitioners and academics into the challenges facing health systems having to make difficult decisions about what to fund (or not) in the wake of the world economic recession. Early bird registration for the conference is now open.

More news stories >
HSMC viewpoints

It has been fascinating to hear again the term ‘planning guidance’ amidst discussion of local sustainability and transformation plans. The focus on collaborative local planning seems to be a throwback to the pre-Lansley days when the NHS was a more integrated and managed whole. This new(ish) approach does however raise important questions, including the role of local commissioning.
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Exploring the contentious issue of decommissioning

Dr Iestyn Williams is leading a major three-year National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) funded study of decommissioning health care – that is, the ways in which health commissioners and providers go about making decisions about how to stop (or scale back) providing a service deemed to be no longer of value, for whatever reason. This research into what is a highly contentious and challenging issue is nearing its conclusion, and will be reporting later this year. This research has been given additional NIHR funding for an in-depth study of the experiences and attitudes of patients, their families and the public in relation to decommissioning health services. We will be arranging a series of dissemination events later this year about the findings of this research.

More research on commissioning and decision making from HSMC

More research >
Evaluating integration: Unlocking the mysteries – 1 March

Whilst integrated care is a priority of health and care systems across the UK and indeed internationally, our understanding of how to best achieve integrated care in different contexts and for particular populations is far from perfect. One of the reasons behind this patchy evidence base is the complexity of researching such a wide variety of mechanisms and expected outcomes within different organisational and professional settings.

In this research seminar international expert Professor Professor Bert Vrijhoef, Professor in Health Services Research at the National University of Singapore, Senior Research Fellow at the Scientific Centre for Care and Welfare at Tilburg University and principal investigator at the University Hospital Maastricht, will share his experience of undertaking such research – the methods that work and the pitfalls to avoid.
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Social Policy and Administration Journal 50th Anniversary Conference 1 April

In 2016 the academic journal ‘Social Policy and Administration’ will celebrate its 50th anniversary, with a free conference being held in Birmingham on 1 April. Plenary Speakers will include Prof Peter Taylor-Gooby, Professor of Social Policy at the University of Kent and Prof Daniel Beland, Professor of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. The conference will be held at HSMC, so please contact Naomi Bryant to register your place.

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Postgraduate Certificate in Healthcare Commissioning
Learning how to set priorities in health care is a key element of HSMC’s Postgraduate Certificate in Healthcare Commissioning Participants undertake three modules to achieve a Postgraduate Certificate – these are Strategic Commissioning, Decision making and Priority Setting and Procurement and Market Management. Current and previous students include NHS and Local Authority commissioning managers and clinicians with active roles in Clinical Commissioning Groups.
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Postgraduate MSc programmes

Our MSc programmes provide a challenging and inspiring study experience for those working in health and social care organisations. Our students, past and present, include senior managers, clinicians, and other health and social care practitioners and professionals. They equip participants with the knowledge, skills and confidence to develop both their careers and organisations.

We are now accepting applications for Programmes commencing in September 2016.
visit the website >

NHS Leadership Academy programmes

The ‘Anderson’ programme is a two year course aimed at mid-tier clinicians and managers in health and care, leading to an MSc in Healthcare Leadership and an NHS Leadership Academy Award in Senior Healthcare Leadership.


The MSc in Healthcare Leadership is jointly accredited and awarded with the University of Manchester, and delivered by a consortium of partner organisations led by KPMG, including National Voices and LEO Learning, and a number of internationally renowned academic institutions, including Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Erasmus University of Rotterdam, University of Pretoria, as well as the European Health Management Association. This diverse group has created a unique and innovative blended learning experience, combining online, work-based and face-to-face study. This includes a bespoke virtual campus with interactive case studies based on real patients’ experiences, to create a learning environment that addresses everyday NHS leadership challenges, and in turn helps transform NHS working culture.
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Recent Publications

HSMC staff have published widely on the theme of priority setting and decision making in health, including a recent report for the NHS Confederation and Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.

Other recent publications on commissioning and priority setting include the following:

Smith, J.A. and Walshe, K. (2015) Comprehensive spending review and the NHS. BMJ [online], 351(h6477). Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h6477 [Accessed 27 January 2016]


Smith, J.A. and Walshe, K. (2015) Tackling the NHS’s unprecedented deficit and securing reform. BMJ [online], 351(h4670). Available at:http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h6477 [Accessed 27 January 2016]


Williams, I. and Bryan, S. (2015) ‘Using economic evaluation in priority setting: what do we know and what can we do?’ In: E. Nagel, M. Lauerer and V. Schätzlein (eds.) Legitimization and framework of prioritization in medicine: an international dialogue. Springer Verlag, Germany.


Williams, I. (2015) Receptive rationing: reflections and suggestions for priority setters in health care. Journal of Health Organisation and Management, 29(6): 701-710


Williams, I. and Bryan, S. (2015) Lonely at the top and stuck in the middle? The ongoing challenge of using cost effectiveness information in priority setting. International Journal of Health Policy and Management, 4(3): 185-187


Sheaff, R., Charles, N., Mahon, A., Chambers, N., Morando, V., Exworthy, M., Byng, R., Mannion, R. and Llewellyn, S. (2015) NHS commissioning practice and health system governance: a mixed-methods realistic evaluation. Health Services and Delivery Research [online], 3(10). Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3310/hsdr03100 [Accessed 27 January 2016]


Shaw, S., Smith, J.A., Porter, A., Rosen, R. and Mays, N. (2013) The work of commissioning: a multisite case study of commissioning in England’s NHS. BMJ Open [online], 3e003341. Available at: http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/3/9/e003341.full [Accessed 27 January 2016]


Smith J.A., Porter, A., Shaw, S., Rosen, R., Blunt, I. and Mays, N. (2013) Commissioning high quality care for people with long-term conditions [online]. Available at: www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/publications/commissioning-high-quality-care-people-long-term-conditions [Accessed 27 January 2016]

View our recent publications >
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