More than 90 sets of providers and commissioners have shown interest in becoming one of the six trial sites for year-of-care tariff trials, HSJ has learned.

The Department of Health hopes the system will encourage health economies to cut hospital demand and provide more care closer to home, by paying providers to care for a patient with a long term condition for a year, rather than per episode of care.  

The DH invited applications for “early implementers” to test the payment system last month.

Applications are being prepared by clinical commissioning groups alongside their local acute and community providers. Ambulance services, primary care and council-funded social care are “linked” to the trials, but not directly involved.

HSJ has learned that more than 90 groups have contacted the department so far. Full expressions of interest must be submitted by 25 May.

The successful bids will be selected within a week of the deadline and will begin using the payment system from June. Year-of-care tariffs are scheduled to be implemented nationally from April 2014.

NHS Confederation deputy chief executive David Stout said there was an appetite among commissioners to move away from the existing episodic payment by results system.

However, he said a year-of-care tariff was not a “quick fix”, and that while the current system was a barrier to designing better healthcare, “local leadership is absolutely essential” to improving services for patients.

Foundation Trust Network chief executive Sue Slipman welcomed the more “holistic view” of year-of-care tariffs, but emphasised that for them to work properly, “the money must be invested in providing successful out of hospital care that re-directs demand”. If it is not, it would increase the financial risk to existing providers.

The Department of Health confirmed there had been “strong initial interest” in the trials.