With increasing scrutiny on the cost and quality of healthcare, our health charity clients are receiving increasing numbers of requests for information to support evidence based commissioning.

Supporting commissioning is of tremendous public value and can really benefit service recipients of charities. However, although charities will want to work with commissioners, there are some issues for charities to keep in mind:

  1. The time involved in giving this support. Smaller organisations in particular need to ensure costs are covered.
  2. Organisations need to ensure any information they provide is not used out of context or in any way that could damage their reputation.
  3. Confidentiality – if the information is not in the public domain, does your organisation have the right to pass it on?
  4. Data protection – take care in passing personal data to commissioners as you will need to meet your data protection obligations.

In relation to paragraph (a), voluntary organisations needs to be upfront to commissioners about the benefit commissioners receive in talking directly to them and ensure there is a clear understanding as to reimbursement of reasonable expenses. Clinical Commissioning Groups have been allotted a budget for running costs. They have flexibility as to how they apply these funds to commissioning support provided they can demonstrate compliance with conditions such as demonstrating value for money and improvement in the quality of services they commission.

Any risk to which a charity may be exposed in relation to paragraphs (b) to (d) above, can be minimised by having a clear internal protocol in place for information sharing that can also have real benefits for a charity. Having a process clearly set out and ensuring that all relevant individuals are made aware of it saves time (and other resources) whenever a charity is asked to participate in any relevant information gathering exercise by commissioners.