Commissioning Cycle

Commissioning is akin to a relay race, with colleagues from different disciplines, Directorates and organisations, needing to deliver on their part of the process and hand on the baton at the appropriate stage. Multidisciplinary ‘task and finish groups’ may be brought together at different points of the work.

Tips on searching the web:

When searching the internet, suggested terms include…

  • “commissioning cycle”
  • COMBINED WITH terms to describe any specific topic areas you are focusing upon.
  • To limit to NHS papers, try combining your results with: (pct OR “primary care trust” OR nhs OR ccg)
  • You can search for terms such as “board paper” / “strategy” to help to locate Trust papers

Also have a look at our summary of tips on searching the web.


List of contents

The Commissioning Cycle

This diagram of the commissioning cycle shows a way of breaking the cycle down into three main stages: Strategic Planning, Providing Services, and Monitoring and Evaluation and 8 more detailed stages:

View resources on these 8 stages of the commissioning cycle:

It’s also possible to break the commissioning cycle into 4 stages as outlined by the RCPG in The Principles of Clinically led commissioning:

  • analyse and plan
  • design pathways
  • specify and procure
  • deliver and improve

What is a commissioning plan? – see the description from the Wellards Academy (a training organisation for the pharmaceutical industry).

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Patient pathways

NICE Pathways
An online tool that brings together all related NICE guidance and associated products in a set of interactive topic-based diagrams.

Map of Medicine
Patient pathways available (without password) through NHS Choices as Health Guides or see how those NHS trusts which have access to the Map of Medicine have localised their pathway by visiting the Map of Medicine website (Password required).

  • Using the Map of Medicine at the Royal Free Hospital – Focused on achieving the 18 week wait target, the Royal Free Hampstead Hospital NHS Trust is using the Map of Medicine to facilitate pathway redesign. The evidence team in the Royal Free library is playing a key role in localizing the maps.

British Lung Foundation COPD patient pathway – an interactive pathway developed with Almerill

Pathways for Health (PfH)
A web based system which enables commissioners to create pathways to address the specific health needs of their local population. See examples of DH elective care pathways

Understanding the Patient Journey – Process Mapping
A report outlining how process mapping can be used to produce patient journey maps.

Process mapping the patient journey: an introduction
BMJ 2010; 341:c4078
(Open athens required)

NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries
The NICE CKS service provides primary care practitioners with a readily accessible summary of the current evidence base and practical guidance on best practice in respect of over 300 common and/or significant primary care presentations.

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Commissioning guides

NICE commissioning support
Commissioning resources, Costing tools and Information and resources to support for the local implementation of NICE quality standards, clinical and public health guidelines and technology appraisals.

Commissioning Guides
A collection on the NHS Networks Commissioning Zone – (they seem to have stopped using this tag in July 2013)

Strategic Commissioning Development Unit (SCDU): commissioning packs [Archived Content]
Tools to help commissioners improve the quality of services for patients, through clearly defined outcomes that help drive efficiency by reducing unwarranted variation in services. Each pack contains a set of tailored guidance, templates, tools and information to assist commissioners in commissioning healthcare services from existing providers, or for use in new procurements. Includes a commissioning pack for a Cardiac rehabilitation service.

Guide to commissioning practice
Yorkshire & Humber Joint Improvement Partnership resource including guidance, tools and case studies that could help strategic commissioners develop their commissioning processes across adult social care.

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