The abolition of strategic health authorities could be deferred further – potentially until April 2013 – because of Health Bill delays, HSJ has learned.
Several senior sources indicated the option is being considered by national NHS management. NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson has already delayed their closedown, along with setting up the NHS Commissioning Board and the planned overhaul of Monitor, from April to July 2012.
But it is now thought the Health Bill may not become law until as late as spring 2012. The government is expected to make major changes to its NHS reform plans which will require parts to be redrafted. It is also thought likely to be scrutinised for a second time by a Commons bill committee, adding further delay.
Senior NHS sources stressed no decision had been made but said options included delaying SHA abolition further. They said rather than changing midway through the financial year it may make sense to delay it until April 2013.
One source said: “Redrafting the bill almost certainly puts an extra three months onto it. Instead it could just go to the next financial year. It could mean everything starts in 2013.” The source said it could mean a “big bang” transfer from SHAs and PCTs to the NHS Commissioning Board and commissioning consortia at the same time.
Another said NHS management planning the transition had to consider how quickly the government could get its bill passed. The source said: “To force the bill through at pace without strong political support could be difficult.”