On 25 January 2013, the NHS Commissioning Board published The Way Forward – Clinical Senates.

It reminds readers that the NHS Future Forum found that there was universal support for multi-professional clinical leadership in the NHS, and recommended the creation of multi-specialty clinical senates to provide strategic independent advice and leadership to support the commissioning and provision of healthcare designed to best meet the needs of patients. The need was re-emphasised in the 2012-13 NHS Operating Framework.

Seven possible roles for them are set out on pages 3 and 4 of the publication.

Key points to note are:

  • They should not constrain the activities of individual clinical commissioning groups
  • They will not be able to veto proposals but rather advise and highlight issues
  • It will be for commissioners to decide whether input from a clinical senate is required
  • They could offer strategic advice on reconfiguration of maternity services, diagnostics or seven-day services
  • They should not revisit strategic decisions that have already been made in the current system
  • There will be 12 clinical senates in England
  • They will have more of a clinical focus than health and wellbeing boards or health overview and scrutiny committees
  • The terms of reference and operating model will be developed and should be complete by the end of March, members will be appointed and links will be formed with other organisations