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Clinical Networks

Requesting Advice from the Senate Council

Requests for advice are submitted on a form. Please complete the ‘contact us’ section if you would like a form. If you are not a commissioner then you need to find a commissioner who will agree to sponsor your request before submission (either a CCG, Local Authority or NHS England).

The request may also be referred back to a commissioner as part of their remit – although this has not happened to date.

Strategic Clinical Networks and Clinical Senates are relatively new and not everyone is familiar yet with the way we operate.

SCNs and Clinical Senates work towards improving outcomes for patients as set out in the NHS Operating Framework. There are five domains (which is how NHS England organises its work), Domains 1-3 are how the SCNs and Clinical Senate assesses the impact of our work; Domains 4 & 5 underpin everything we do:

  1. Preventing people from dying prematurely
  2. Enhancing quality of life for people with long term conditions
  3. Helping people recover from episodes of ill health or following injury
  4. Ensuring that people have a positive experience of care
  5. Treating and caring for people in a safe environment and protecting them from avoidable harm.

There are also four strategic clinical networks:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular
  • Maternity, Children and Young People
  • Mental Health, Neurology and Dementia

The requests for advice are then discussed by the Oversight and Planning Group (OPG) which meets quarterly.  The OPG will determine whether the request for advice should be considered by the Senate Council or should be forwarded to a Strategic Clinical Network or another part of NHS England (e.g. Nursing Directorate).

The role of the OPG is not to turn down a request for advice from the Clinical Senate but to make sure that it meets our terms of reference. Our terms of reference are set out in the Accountability and Governance Framework with some guidelines on what is likely to be accepted as a suitable request.

The acceptance criteria of Wessex Clinical Senate


The decision on the solution to the problem has not already been made in the health system.  If a decision has been made, the Clinical Senate Assembly will be able to assist in providing the public profile on service changes, but NHS England states that the Clinical Senate should not revisit the issue[1].


The patient outcomes which are affected by the issue can be measured in direct or indirect ways.


The service change is major in that it will impact a whole system and is beyond the remit of a single commissioner.


The benefits of the change can be easily communicated across the health and social care economy in an ‘end to end’ story.


There is active visible sign off for the change proposed from senior leaders or the ‘high interest, high influence’ stakeholders as identified by the topic or issue analysis in Wessex.


The sponsors or owners of the change who have requested advice are willing to commit the time necessary to complete the change, the number of people required to execute it and any other resources required (e.g. financial, external consultants).

[1] Clinical Senates, The Way Forward, 25th January 2013