The original timetable for parts of the NHS reforms has slipped because of the government’s decision to have a listening exercise and put the planned reforms on hold.
A letter from NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson sent to all chief executives and GP commissioning consortia pathfinder leads this week admits that some dates for change have had to be amended.
The Department of Health launched its listening exercise earlier this month while the Health and Social Care Bill is on a “pause” before continuing through parliament in the summer. The aim is to listen to concerns over the reform that the Bill proposes and amend it.
Sir David’s letter deals with the “transition” period that the NHS finds itself in.
For planning purposes, and subject to the results of the listening exercise and the passage of the Bill, the proposed timeline for completing key elements of the transition at local level remained unchanged, he wrote.
That meant that GP consortia would take control of commissioning from April 2013 following authorisation by the NHS Commissioning Board. Health and wellbeing boards would also take on their full statutory powers and PCTs would be abolished by April 2013.
However, said Sir David, because of the pause in the legislative process and the listening exercise, all of the statutory changes that were due to take place in April 2012 would now be delayed by three months and happen no earlier than July 2012.
These included the abolition of strategic health authorities and the NHS Commissioning Board assuming its full statutory powers.
The first phase of giving economic regulator Monitor its new powers would also be delayed as would the timeframe for implementing HealthWatch England and giving full powers to the NHS Trust Development Authority, Health Education England and Public Health England.
The creation of shadow bodies and the appointment of senior staff to these organisations would also be delayed to allow time for the engagement process to take place
“These changes are of course very significant for the organisations concerned and their staff,” he said. “We are working through the full implications of the changes on a case by case basis and will provide further advice in due course on any further developments.
“In the meantime, it is important that we continue to support our staff through what will no doubt be a difficult and uncertain period for many.”
Sir David added: “The scale and breadth of what we need to deliver over the coming period remains as challenging as ever.”