Following a detailed assessment of contract transfer risk with a small sample of primary care trusts (PCTs), a framework has been developed to ensure that contracts will be transferred to new contracting authorities by April 2013.
The implementation of the Health and Social Care Bill will require PCTs to transfer approximately 75,000 clinical service contracts or agreements. The Department of Health has developed a national framework and timescales for contract transfer and some supporting tools to assist PCT and strategic health authority (SHA) clusters to manage the process.
The process of transferring contracts should be supported by a set of core principles:
- clinical care must not be threatened during contract transition
- a consistent and objective approach is required
- there will be openness, transparency and visibility of progress
- management action should be proportionate to the risks identified
- it is the responsibility of the current contracting authorities to prepare contracts for transfer and ensure no ‘net gain’ or ‘net loss’ due to the transfer process
- it is the responsibility of new contracting authorities to establish the management controls and operational processes to receive contracting responsibilities and maintain continuity of service with any clinical, financial and legal risks addressed
PCT clusters will be expected to lead three phases of work to assure a smooth transfer of healthcare service contracts:
Stocktake: identify agreements held by existing contracting authorities, profile them, and perform a risk assessment on each one. The risk assessment will identify areas of improvement required before contracts are transferred to new authorities.
Stabilise: address identified risks with targeted actions to safeguard transition.
Shift: operationally and formally transfer contracts and contracting responsibilities to the new contracting bodies.
Each of these phases is explained in more detail in a letter from David Flory, Deputy NHS Chief Executive.