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National Services Division Commissioning for Scotland's Health

About National Services Division

National Services Division (NSD) is a division within NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) and is based at Gyle Square in Edinburgh. Each year, NSD receives top-sliced, ring-fenced funding from the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates (SGHSCD) to commission and performance manage nationally designated specialist services and screening programmes, National Managed Clinical & Diagnostic Networks and National Network Management Service.


The main purpose of NSD is to ensure the provision of high quality, effective, specialist health and screening services to meet the needs of the population of Scotland.


NSD seeks to be valued as a trusted partner within NHS Scotland that enables and supports transformation in the health and wellbeing of all the people of Scotland.

What we do

NSD develops service agreements with each nationally-designated service which cover service specifications, quality standards and activity expectations. There are also regular meetings between clinical and management personnel from NSD and the services to discuss audit, clinical outcome and specific service issues.

National commissioning is reserved for those very specialist services where local or even regional commissioning is not appropriate. The services are generally concerned with the diagnosis and/or treatment of rare conditions. Provision of services is concentrated in a small number of locations nationally, encouraging the development of specialist skills in recognised centres of excellence.

Commissioning has three main components:


In relation to specialist and screening services this involves ensuring that the service is provided:

  • In the right location (with necessary support services)
  • By the right team (expertise)
  • At the right quality (including sufficient throughput to maintain standards)
  • At the right cost/right quantity (to ensure best value for money)

Planning must involve clinicians, managers, patient groups and other stakeholders as well as NSD. It involves the following activities:

  • Assessing need and current levels of provision
  • Developing strategic plans for the service including configuration, workforce and levels of patient activity
  • Agreeing appropriate standards for the service (these are usually incorporated in a service specification)
  • Achieving equity of access
  • Implementing national policy


  • Obtaining services to meet need
  • Agreeing levels of activity and cost
  • Developing arrangements to manage financial risk in partnerships with NHS Boards

Performance Management

  • Monitoring clinical outcomes
  • Monitoring quality of service and achievement of targets
  • Monitoring activity and finance

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