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Commissioning Guides

The RCS has developed commissioning guides to assist clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in making decisions about appropriate healthcare for specific clinical circumstances. The guides will also help CCGs fulfil their obligation to commission healthcare for their population that meets the five domains in the NHS Outcomes Framework.

Commissioning guide development

NICE accreditation

Our commissioning guides are developed using a defined process that is accredited by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). As such they bear the NICE accreditation mark.

Key development steps

A summary of the development process is outlined below. Read our commissioning guide process manual for a more detailed explanation.

  • Guideline development group (GDC): Each group is chaired by a consultant surgeon and has representation from key stakeholders, including primary and secondary care, commissioning and patient groups.
  • Initial workshop: this includes a description of the process, agreement of terms of reference for the guide and setting a work plan. 
  • Conflict of interest: Every member of the development group and peer reviewers are required to submit any conflict of interest and these are published at the end of each guide. Read the conflict of interest policy.
  • Literature search: The development group define the boundaries of the literature review, which is completed by an external company.
  • Consultation and peer review: Each guide is sent out for public consultation and peer review (minimum of one commissioner, one surgeon and one patient, who have not been involved in the development process) for four to six weeks. In addition, any organisations which have an interest in the topic area are invited to comment. The draft guide is posted on this website and that of the surgical specialty association during this period.
  • Final approval and publication: Feedback from the consultation period is reviewed by the development group and final changes are made prior to publication.
  • Revision: The guides are revised after three years or earlier if significant new evidence becomes available that would impact on the high value care pathway. 

RCS resources for Guideline Development Groups

We have developed the following resources to support GDCs with producing commissioning guides within the NICE accredited process, ensuring the development can be quality assured. 

Surgical commissioning guides from other organisations

NHS England and British Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons have published a Pathfinder for low back and radicular pain

Royal College of Ophthalmologists: Ophthalmology commissioning resources

The Royal College of Physicians has a Clinical Commissioning Hub an online resource for those commissioning secondary care services in England, service planners and clinicians designing these services across the UK

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