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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 of health services 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.

The Clinical Senate may provide advice on how health services might be improved or an assessment as to whether the clinical case for change of health services (which is presented for assurance) benefits the patient. The current guidance on planning and delivering service change also identifies a role for the clinical senate in informing the NHS England assurance process prior to wider public consultation. Wessex Clinical Senate produced a paper on the relative standing of advice and assurance and the potential pitfalls involved in the provision of these forms of clinical input to the design and commissioning of health services.


There are also four strategic clinical networks that the clinical senate works closely with:

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

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 Senate has an acceptance criteria which it uses to determine whether a request for advice is appropriate:

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