NHS commissioning support units: CSU-zy names, CSU-zy regions

As noted in May, the eventual names of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have ended up being sensible and a bit dull – with the exception of appropriately-independent NHS Kernow CCG (Cornwall). But this is not the case for commissioning support units, which will provide a range of services to CCGs behind the scenes. Firstly, there’s been an in-flight change of generic name – CSUs were firstly known as commissioning support services, then they weren’t.

But it’s in the individual CSUs (listed and mapped here, with contact details for managing directors) that the NHS has drawn on its rich local heritage of names and boundaries that no-one else understands. Here is some guidance:

1) In the NHS, metropolitan counties never die. In local authority terms, Greater Manchester was abolished in 1986, to be replaced by 10 unitary councils. But as noted in last December’s Guardian Healthcare Network Christmas quiz, the NHS will not let Greater Manchester go. It’s been an area health authority, a district health authority, a strategic health authority, is currently a primary care trust cluster and will soon be back again as Greater Manchester CSU. The same goes for Merseyside.

2) There will be a mysteriously named organisation in the Midlands covering a non-obvious area. Arden CSU will presumably support forest-based talking therapy retreats for couples.

3) London will be split into sectors that are a bit like postcode areas but don’t correspond to them: in this case, North West London CSU, North Central and East London CSU and South London CSU.

4) An NHS organisation covering Bristol and/or Swindon will have a name that a) points out that the area is in the west of the country and b) implies greatness of said area. Hence Great Western Hospitals and Great Western Ambulance Service, both based in Swindon. In this case, Best West CSU will presumably offer GPs a competitive hotel booking service.

5) As with NHS Kernow, the Cornish like to play by their own rules. In this case, not only was the draft name for the local CSU, shared with Devon, ‘Peninsula’, but it was also rejected by the NHS Commissioning Board, probably on grounds of being too small (in population, not square miles). Sharing with Devon is bad enough, but it’s possible that the lands over the Tamar may have to become part of the Best West empire. Harsh.

Update: Commissioning support units and managing directors mapped