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Strategic Commissioning Development Unit (SCDU): commissioning packs

  • Author:
    Department of Health
  • Published date:
    21 October 2010
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Commissioning packs are tools to help commissioners improve the quality of services for patients, through clearly defined outcomes that help drive efficiency by reducing unwarranted variation in services.

Each pack contains a set of tailored guidance, templates, tools and information to assist commissioners in commissioning healthcare services from existing providers, or for use in new procurements.

Integral to each pack is an evidence-based service specification which ensures that patients are placed at the forefront of the service and are central to decisions about their care.

The specification is non-mandatory and can be adapted to reflect local needs and once agreed with the provider should inform part of a renegotiated contract or form the relevant section of the NHS standard contract.

By bringing together the clinical, financial and commercial aspects of commissioning in one place, the packs simplify processes and minimise bureaucracy.  

A more detailed description of the components of each commissioning pack is provided below:


 The overview document serves as a high-level introduction to different elements of the commissioning pack. It enables the commissioner to start benchmarking existing service provision, together with a description of service improvement outcomes that a new service could deliver.

 Planning, agreeing and monitoring guidance

 The commissioning pack provides the commissioner with guidance on planning a new service (deciding on a new service or improvements to an existing service) and agreeing a service (by reference to the NHS standard contract). The pack provides guidance on monitoring service provision by way of a simple dashboard report and remedies linked to outcomes that are set out in the service specification.

  Case for change

This document sets out the evidence base for the service and patients to be included in the scope of the service. The document refers to relevant NICE guidelines. The document can be used by a commissioner as part of a business case for a new service or as part of service re-design.

 Service specification 

The service specification sets out a best practice evidence based care pathway which has been developed with a reference group of nationally recognised clinical experts. The specification can be adapted for local use and can be used for service re-design with an existing supplier or as part of a procurement exercise. The specification sets out service outcomes and indicators, and deliverables which can be inserted into the NHS standard contracts.

 Business case template

  The business case template provides guidance and decision support for commissioners in identifying the financial, economic and health related costs and benefits of introducing a new service.

 Costing tool 

  The costing tool enables a commissioner to understand the costs of the service based on the pathway and deliverables set out in the specification. It sets out the savings associated with introducing the service, measured by reductions in hospital readmissions for in-scope patients.

 Procurement guidance

 The procurement section provides guidance, templates and tools to assist commissioners in managing an effective procurement.  The pack also provides interactive project plans to help manage the procurement process.

 Procurement templates and tools  

 The procurement section includes a comprehensive set of template documents and tools that a commissioner can use in running as procurement.

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