The South West Clinical Senate provides commissioners of health and care services with a source of independent clinical advice to help them to make the best possible decisions about health and care provision in the South West. Since September 2014 the 12 clinical senates across England have taken on the review of clinical evidence for major service change proposals, a role formerly delivered by the National Clinical Assurance Team (NCAT).
As a significant service change proposal is developed and refined, commissioners must ensure it undergoes a rigorous self-assessment to comply with the Department of Health’s four tests for service change:
1. strong public and patient engagement;
2. consistency with current and prospective need for patient choice;
3. a clear clinical evidence base; and
4. support for proposals from clinical commissioners.
The Clinical Senate is set up to provide independent clinical review and assurance against test 3 – a clear clinical evidence base and offers two types of review:
‘read and review’ to provide a strategic sense check prior to options being developed for a service change.
a clinical panel which may carry out site-visits, review service change documentation and meet with service providers to advise on the robustness of the clinical evidence base. This is a recommended part of the NHS England stage 2 assurance check point that gives the go ahead for service change proceeding to public consultation.