Commissioning staff will find out whether they have a place in the new commissioning system, and many will be transferred, by December, NHS Commissioning Board chief executive Sir David Nicholson has announced.

It comes in an update on the transition sent to NHS chief executives today, following the Health Act becoming law. Health secretary Andrew Lansley has also today written to NHS staff (see below).

Sir David says: “There is an enormous amount to do to prepare for the bulk of the statutory changes in April 2013.

“The aim is that by December 2012 staff will know their futures.”

The letter also says:

  • By the beginning of May 2012: Taking decisions on the process by which different functions will move into the new organisations, including where transfers will take place. Some organisations will make a small number of priority appointments during this period.
  • During May and June 2012, we will aim to complete all of the remaining senior appointments. The bulk of this staff group will be at very senior management (VSM) grade or equivalent. Director level appointments for national organisations; the NHS Commissioning Board Authority will appoint the leadership of commissioning support services. The board will provide support for CCGs to make designate senior appointments.
  • From July to December 2012, we will complete the remaining phases of transition. The intention is to transfer staff, slotting-in either directly or via competitive slot-in. Some posts are new posts where no transfer of functions will be taking place, or substantially different and will therefore need to be filled through limited, wider ring-fenced or open competition. Where competition is required, it will be organised to provide maximum opportunity for staff at risk.

The letter adds: “In a minority of cases some posts in the new bodies will be so substantially different from anything we do in the current system that external recruitment might be necessary, but the immediate priority of all organisations is to maximise opportunities for existing staff.

“All organisations will need to be mindful of the principles of minimising redundancies and retaining essential talent wherever possible.

“The level of redundancy costs we incur during 2012-13 will impact directly on the budgets of new organisations and their ability to appoint more people from 2013-14, so there is a clear incentive to minimise costs.”

In his separate letter, Mr Lansley says: “I hope that the Health and Social Care Act will now give the NHS the long-term stability - in structure and in how it operates - that it has lacked. We are tackling the issues left to us.

“Putting that legislation in place is my job as a politician. My ambition is for a clinically-led NHS that delivers the best possible care for patients. But politicians should not be able to tell clinicians how to do their jobs. I hope you and your colleagues in the NHS will take advantage of the new freedoms that the Act has put in place.”