Strategic Clinical Networks: an introduction

What they are

Strategic Clinical Networks (SCNs) are part of NHS England, working across the boundaries of commissioning and provision, as engines for change in the modernised NHS. They are one element of the new system that supports commissioners with their core purpose of quality improvement and ultimately the achievement of outcome ambitions for patients.

SCNs sit alongside a system of Operational Delivery Networks (ODNs) and Clinical Senates, supporting innovation and service improvement where,

  • a large scale change is required across very complex pathways of care involving many professional groups and organisations, and is the best approach to planning and delivering services; and
  • a co-ordinated, combined improvement approach is needed to overcome certain healthcare challenges, which have not responded previously to other improvement efforts.

Four initial SCN groupings are operating throughout the country:

  • Cancer;
  • Cardiovascular;
  • Maternity and Children;
  • Mental health, dementia and neurological conditions.

Guiding values and principles

The guiding values and principles upon which Strategic Clinical Networks have been founded are:

  • A clear sense of purpose;
  • A commitment to putting patients, clinicians and carers at the heart of decision making;
  • An energised and proactive organisation1 offering leadership and direction;
  • A focused and professional organisation, easy to do business with;
  • An objective culture, using evidence to inform the full range of its activities;
  • A flexible organisation;
  • An organisation committed to working in partnership to achieve its goals;
  • An open and transparent approach;
  • An organisation with clear accountability arrangements.

Fixed points for measuring success

  • The NHS Constitution;
  • The NHS Outcomes Framework;
  • delivering within budget
  • statutory duties including promoting equality and reducing inequalities.

The five ‘lenses’ that provide the guiding principles for Strategic Clinical Networks:

  • Quality – contribution to the NHS Outcomes Framework
  • Clinical leadership
  • Patient and public voice
  • Equality and health inequalities
  • Innovation and the NHS change model.