NHS England has announced the appointment of two leading Christie clinicians to help identify and develop new cancer treatments, services and standards. 

Professor Nicholas Slevin, consultant in clinical oncology at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and Mr Vijay Sangar, consultant urological surgeon at The Christie and the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, are among 42 clinical experts and practitioners in their specialist fields to be appointed as Chairs of Clinical Reference Groups (CRGs), helping to improve standards across specialised commissioning, and ensuring best value is achieved. 

For the first time, the role of CRG Chair will be a formal, remunerated NHS England position, recognising the importance of the position in providing expert clinical oversight in their specialist area, as well as contributing to the wider strategic and clinical development of specialised services. The Chair will guide the policy development work of their respective CRGs.  

Prof Slevin will head the Radiotherapy CRG. He said: “I am looking forward to promoting closer working relationships between networked radiotherapy providers and ensuring that all patients across NHSE have equitable access to the latest radiotherapy technology and the best possible treatment.” 

Mr Sangar, who will be Chair of Specialised Cancer Surgery, added: “I am very pleased to be given this important opportunity. The NHS will always require a process of evolution. Cancer surgery has enormous scope and I hope we can nurture clinicians to move forward with the national cancer strategy collectively for long term sustainability and better outcomes for our patients.”  

Dr Jonathan Fielden, NHS England’s Director of Specialised Commissioning and Deputy National Medical Director, said: “NHS England is committed to transforming and improving outcomes for patients and achieving best value for the resources available. Ensuring that we draw on the best clinical advice and leadership available is essential in achieving this.  

I am delighted with the appointments made across the spectrum of specialised commissioning, and am confident that each Chair – along with their respective CRG members – will make a significant contribution to developing and delivering our strategy for excellent and efficient specialised services over the coming years. 

The specialised services commissioned by NHS England – which have a combined annual budget of around £15.66bn in 2016/17 – are grouped into six National Programmes of Care (NPoC), each of which is then supported by CRGs focusing on specific clinical specialities.  

CRGs and their members play a significant role leading the development of clinical commissioning policy, service specifications and quality dashboards, advising on service reviews (what is done where and how), advising on innovation, identifying opportunities to reduce clinical variation and delivering value.   

Under the new Strategic Framework for Specialised Services, CRGs will also be expected to identify best practice in different places, helping to spread innovation and improve outcomes for all patients, as well as identify where outdated and poor value treatments, drugs and devices should no longer be supported.