Somerset County Council and NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group are working in partnership to improve Somerset’s services for children and young people (aged 0 to 25) with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND). The work taking place  is outlined within the Written Statement of Action (WSoA) and divided into Improvement Priority (IP) areas.

What is Improvement Priority 4 and why does it matter? 

Improvement Priority 4 (IP4) is about commissioning, which is the process of  planning, agreeing, buying and monitoring education, health and care services in order to meet the needs of individuals. This involves developing services within the internal County Council and NHS market, and also buying in services from private providers. Ofsted were critical of the way the Somerset CCG and Somerset County Council (SCC) commission services and said there were poor arrangements that limited leaders’ ability to meet area needs, improve outcomes and achieve cost efficiencies. We plan to improve the way SCC and CCG work jointly to plan and set up services together.

What are we aiming for? 

Joint commissioning is where people work together creatively to make things happen to meet the needs that have been identified, this is done in partnership to make best use of all possible resources across the system and enable joined up services. Commissioning is completed in a cycle and IP4 aims to improve joint commissioning arrangements to ensure this cycle of activities meets local area needs, improves outcomes and cost efficiencies. We know that if we want to get good outcomes from commissioning that we need to listen to those who need or use or service. We will be collaborating with users of services when commissioning and reviewing services.

What is being done to make this happen? 

Our SEND Joint Commissioning Strategy along with our local Children and Young People’s Plan and SEND Strategy provides an overarching agreed model for how best to use the local area resources available and to ensure the right funding is in the right place at the right time. It sets out the vision for the next 3 years and has an action plan that is refreshed annually by all partners. Every year we produce a local area Joint Strategic Needs Assessment to identify the key challenges and shape activity for the following year.

What has been done so far? 

Ensuring that the changes needed by the commissioners are delivered there has been:

  • Commissioned services for SEND (under Chapter 3 of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice (2015)) have been reviewed.
  • Key contracts have been listed and aligned including areas where the Council is buying from NHS providers, to include core functions of therapy services.
  • Groups of children and young people where a shared approach would bring an improved pathway for individuals and their families have been identified.
  • Outcome-based approach to commissioning and strategic plans has been reviewed,
  • Promoted personalisation and access to personal budgets.
  • A joint work plan to deliver SEND services and joint commissioning arrangements has been developed – this sets out how, when and the lead in improving the delivery of the enabling factors.
  • Reviewed the role of Schools and colleges who have a notional SEN budget and whom commission services (such as speech and language therapy, pastoral care and counselling services) to support pupils.
  • Reviewed EHC plans and integrated assessments including personalised budgets.
  • Shared learning from complaints and tribunals about education, health and care provisions and opportunities identified for collaborative working.
  • Ensured that disagreements between LAs and CCGs are resolved quickly by reviewing procedures and escalation protocols.
  • Demonstrated compliance with Public Sector Equality Act and publish objectives to achieve the core aims of the general duty.
  • Established quality metrics for performance monitoring.

Who is involved? 

Commissioning managers from Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Somerset County Council (SCC) are working together to deliver a joint work plan, this also involves support from Somerset Parent Carer Forum, Healthwatch Somerset and stakeholders including NHS England and Public Health.

Where can I find out more? 

Get in touch

If you have any questions about IP4 work please contact

Last reviewed:May 24, 2022 byJennifer

Next review due:November 24, 2022

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