Towards more effective commissioning

"Tell us what the problem is, and we'll try to help" 

Working with a wide range of voluntary sector partners, local NHS staff in the commissioning support field and the Department of Health, we wanted to find out what role the voluntary and community sector should play in the new health and social care system:

  • What intelligence should the voluntary and community sector bring to the table?
  • How can we use the reach of groups that serve communities of interest to help planning?

In order to meet this end, VSNW commissioned Mark Gamsu (Visiting Professor, Leeds Metropolitan University) on behalf of Regional Voices, to carry out initial research which was funded by the Department of Health. The report includes findings and case studies which include public sector commissioners' perspectives.

On this page you will find:

  • The Full report: Towards more effective commissioning.
  • Recommendations: Fostering and mainstreaming innovation.
  • Case studies which include commissioner perspectives on the work of The Lesbian & Gay Foundation, Self Help Services, Unlimited Potential, Beacon Counselling and Wirral Primary Care Advice and Liaison.
  • Follow-on thinkpieces from The King's Fund, Regional Voices and NCVO.


The full report is available here: Towards more effective commissioning of local voluntary sector organisations or below:  



Fostering and Mainstreaming Innovation: Recommendations

A small group of voluntary organisations and social enterprises reviewed the full report and the author, Mark Gamsu, consequently developed the following recommendations, available here: Fostering and Mainstreaming Innovation or below:


The case studies

The case studies use learning from key players in the organisations concerned as well as stories from commissioners - trailing how and why these organisations have become key to tackling the health needs in their areas.
  • Lesbian & Gay Foundation: works with the Lesbian and Gay Community in Greater Manchester. It is the main provider of counselling and sexual health services and health promotion services to this community. At the moment NHS funding is approximately £600k, which equates to about one third of income.

  • Self Help Services: one of the main providers of talking therapy programmes in the North West of England - supporting more than 6000 people each year.

  • Unlimited Potential: based in Salford and develops and delivers innovative health solution to the most disadvantaged communities in the city. It is the main provider of health trainer services and leads work on creating smoke free environments. It currently receives approximately £1m from the NHS.

  • Beacon Counselling: the largest voluntary sector provider of counselling services in Stockport, providing services in nine locations including GP practices, children services and community services. 

  • Wirral Primary Care Advice Liaison: provides a welfare rights service in all GP Practices on the Wirral, which includes access to a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Service delivered in partnership with Wirral CAB and Advocacy in the Wirral. The total value of the contract is over £400k, which represents approximately 20 per cent of the organisation’s income.


Think pieces

In order to maximise learning, we invited a wide range of partners from across the sectors to share their learning in short think pieces and encourage you to forward your comments to


Featured News

25 November 2015

North West Compact Award Winners

There were two North West winners at the recent Compact Awards, which were announced during Compact Week (2nd to 6th November)

23 November 2015

Compact Working Survey Summary

Earlier this year, we ran a survey to gather views on cross-sector partnership working in the North West in association with Compact Voice. A summary of the results is now available

10 November 2015

CQC asks for views on future of quality regulation

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published a discussion paper that sets out some of the choices it faces in responding to changes to how health and social care is delivered, so that regulation continues to help people receive safe, high quality and compassionate care

10 November 2015

CQC Inspection - Wrightington, Wigan & Leigh NHS Foundation Trust

The CQC inspection of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust will take place in December 2015 and a listening event will be held in Leigh on 2nd December

31 October 2015

VSNW Conference - VCSE Review

We would encourage everyone to contribute to the VCSE Review before the deadline of 6th November. The chair of the review, Alex Fox, spoke about this at our recent conference and AGM and a video of this speech is now available

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