STRUCTURE: The transfer of community heathcare services to Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust is likely to be delayed beyond the Department of Health’s April 1 deadline due to a lack of capacity at the foundation trust regulator Monitor.

A progress report on the transfer of community services to the mental health trust, published as part of the trust’s board papers for its February 23 meeting, says the hold-up “could be until May, June, or even July”.

The report says: “Monitor has advised that nationally it is likely that there will be some delays in commencing their risk rating assessment of several significant community health service transactions involving Foundation Trusts.

“Despite expanding their team, they have now reached the limit of their assessment teams’ capacity.” The Dorset case has been identified as “complex”, and will be subject to delays, the  papers say.

In the meantime, Monitor has “provided us with a number of further schedules and templates around the current trading position of the community health services and other FT performance measures and membership data”, the trust says.

Dorset Healthcare expects business plans for the transfer, from NHS Bournemouth and Poole and NHS Dorset, to be signed off by NHS South West on March 1. The trust also reports that the Care Quality Commission has assigned an assessor to the project, to advise on the status of their registration as a provider.

Finance terms relating to the transfer are expected to be agreed between Dorset Healthcare and the two primary care trusts soon.