Assessing need is fundamental to improving the health and wellbeing outcomes of local populations. The Department is committed to ensuring that local services reflect the needs of their populations, leading to communities that are healthier, with services delivered in settings that are most convenient to the people that use them.
To help commissioners understand the needs of their populations, the Department has provided the patients at risk of re-hospitalisation tool which systematically predicts people at risk of repeated emergency admission to hospital and the combined predictive model which stratifies risk across the whole population.
The Department is also working with the NHS to set out a vision for world class commissioning, and the organisational competencies that will be needed to achieve this vision. These competencies will address the importance of understanding and predicting the health needs of the local population, and the techniques that will achieve this.
The Department is planning to publish the vision and competencies in early December. This will be followed early next year by a support and development framework to help primary care trusts achieve the vision for world class commissioning.
The forthcoming duty of joint strategic needs assessment, which should come into effect April 2008, will ensure that the needs of local people are comprehensively and systematically assessed. The Commissioning Framework for Health and Wellbeing, which was out for consultation earlier this year, has already gone a long way towards describing what questions commissioners should ask to understand the needs of the communities they serve. Forthcoming guidance on joint strategic needs assessment from the Department will clarify the approach commissioners can take.