CLAHRC and Commissioning – Why I joined CLAHRC’s capacity building committee


by Marek Zamborsky

Commissioners work in cycles. They analyse, plan, do and review. Then, they start again.
When I was applying for my first commissioning role (a few decent years ago) I dedicated a lot of time researching that cycle. I found that there were many versions of them, however the main starting and finishing point was always the same: research/analyse and then evaluate in the end.

Well, as a Psychology graduate I felt confident to fulfil this part of my commissioning role.

However, what I observed in the commissioning practice was a great surprise.

Firstly, there was a complete lack of skills and subsequent appreciation of research informed practice among my commissioning colleagues. Because there was no such a thing as a “commissioning Master Degree” until recent past, many of the commissioners ended up in the commissioning role by chance rather than choice. This meant that the skills mix for the research and evaluation was not always there despite clear requirement of the “Analyse” part of the commissioning cycle. This element brings together evidence from various sources. One of them is research – global, national, local.

Secondly, even though some commissioners wanted to engage with the research and evaluation, and they reached out for support like CLAHRC, both partners’ worlds were not able to make fully beneficial connection. They wanted to, but did not know how.
Thirdly, consequences of the above are that the commissioning implementations are sometimes not as robust as they could be due to lack of particular supporting and subsequent evaluating evidence.

So, now I am working with the CLAHRC research capacity building committee to explore how I can support both sides, commissioners and researches to learn from each other and work together.

Marek Zamborsky
Head of Commissioning and Contracting for Adult MH and LD Services
NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG

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