A group of struggling health economies in England has been picked to receive expert help with strategic planning of services, in order to raise the quality bar for local patients in a sustainable manner. 

NHS England has confirmed that, in partnership with Monitor and the NHS, a series of projects will be funded to help groups of commissioners and providers develop integrated five-year plans together that effectively address local needs in eleven of the most financially-challenged in the country. 

The areas have been chosen on the basis that they will most benefit from external support in the first few weeks of the new financial year, and potential suppliers are now being invited to tender for the work, it said.

The appointed supplier will act as a "critical friend", seeking to bring together all partners in the health economy and testing whether the organisations are undertaking their long term strategic planning in the most effective way, but responsibility for delivering strategic plans remains with the individual commissioners and providers. 

"We believe that this immediate support will have the greatest long-term impact, providing significant positive benefits to patients and taxpayers in the future," said NHS England’s Chief Financial Officer Paul Baumann.

The budget for the project will be confirmed once the procurement process has been completed, a spokesman for Monitor told PharmaTimes World News online. 

"At this stage funding is provisional and subject to commercial confidentiality agreements," he said, and added that "due to the complexity of the project in identifying the support needed for each health economy, the exact breakdown of spending has not been finalised".