The CSU-zy merging, morphing map of NHS commissioning support units

Other maps of the new NHS: clinical commissioning groups (CCGs); local area teams (LATs); specialised commissioning hubs and clinical senates.

Just under a fortnight ago, the NHS Commissioning Board published an updated list of commissioning support units (CSUs) – the organisations that are about to start running ICT and other support functions for the vast majority of clinical commissioning groups.

Map removed as Google Fusion Tables no longer works.

This revealed that six of the old list of 22 had merged into three – requiring some map update work, see above* – although only one merger was highlighted in the announcement, that of West Yorkshire CSU and South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw CSU becoming West and South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw CSU under Alison Hughes. She was already acting as managing director for both, after Ming Tang, who the original MD for South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, took the post of director of data and information management systems with the NHS Commissioning Board.

A subsequent email to the commissioning board confirmed that Essex CSU and Hertfordshire Integrated CSU, which was already going to run as two units of a joint organisation with one boss David Stout, has become that bit more integrated, as NHS Hertfordshire and Essex CSU – although that name has yet to be confirmed by the Department of Health branding team. (Imagine a group of cowboys out on the plains of SE1, heating up their branding irons to use on recalcitrant quangos.)

More messily, the list also introduced NHS Staffordshire and Lancashire CSU (again, yet to pass branding control), formed from the two CSUs that held those names, although ‘Staffordshire’ in this case includes most of the rural West Midlands. This is now a split-area CSU, coloured in orange in the updated CSU map above. As with the other mergers, both CSUs were sharing a managing director, Derek Kitchen, who is now running them as a single unit.

As well as the three mergers, the board has renamed and expanded three more CSUs. Firstly, NHS Best West CSU becomes NHS South West CSU. The new name sounded as if Devon and Cornwall have been added to what is basically Avon and Somerset Police’s area, except for Bath and North East Somerset. However, that’s not the case – Best West just fell foul of team DH-Brand (it did sound a tiny bit like a certain hotel chain). Similarly, although with no obvious trademark issues, NHS Birmingham, Black Country and Solihull CSU run by Rob Bacon has become NHS Central Midlands CSU (where experience counts).

The map is getting messier elsewhere, too. Courtesy of a prod from David Williams at HSJ, the map now shows the messy situation in Surrey, where NHS South London CSU (now tweeting @SouthLondonCSU) and NHS South CSU (which is also now a split-area CSU) have won CCGs away from NHS Surrey and Sussex CSU.

Given we at EHI Intelligence think they will spend around £670m a year and employ about 8,700 (based on data from a sample), it’s nice to have some of the grey areas on the map sorted out at last. The commissioning board says that the remaining dark grey areas show CCGs that intend to buy their own ICT and other services, by the way.

There’s a reason this map is online: it makes it easier to change when CSUs change. Despite the fact that they go live in one week’s time, they will. David Williams reported last week that badly-performing CSUs have three months to get their acts together, while Roy Lilley says in his email newsletter that “they are in a leaderless, rudderless mess” (worth reading his main piece on leadership, too).

My experience so far has been that some seem well-organised and ready to go (some even have websites now – links above where I have found them).

As for others… to put it politely, some CSUs appear to be operating in stealth mode. Perhaps that will change on 1 April.

The full list of CSUs (at the moment)

NHS North of England Commissioning Support Unit
NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Commissioning Support Unit
NHS Greater Manchester Commissioning Support Unit
NHS Staffordshire and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit
NHS North Yorkshire and Humber Commissioning Support Unit
NHS West and South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Commissioning Support Unit
NHS Arden Commissioning Support Unit
NHS Central Midlands Commissioning Support Unit
NHS Greater East Midlands Commissioning Support Unit
NHS Norfolk and Waveney Commissioning Support Unit
NHS Hertfordshire and Essex Commissioning Support Unit
NHS North & East London Commissioning Support Unit
NHS North West London Commissioning Support Unit
NHS South London Commissioning Support Unit
NHS South West Commissioning Support Unit
NHS Kent and Medway Commissioning Support Unit
NHS Surrey & Sussex Commissioning Support Unit
NHS South Commissioning Support Unit
NHS Central Southern Commissioning Support Unit

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