The Department of Health has decided not to give primary care trusts an overall traffic-light rating at the end of fitness for purpose assessments.

The Department of Health has decided not to give primary care trusts an overall traffic-light rating at the end of fitness for purpose assessments.

Instead organisations will receive individual red, amber or green ratings for performance in each of six areas: finance, strategy, quality, governance, external relations and emergency planning.

HSJ has learned that a letter from the DoH sent to PCTs on 11 May, which said the organisational assessment tool would give PCTs a rating, was incorrect. In fact, DoH officials only settled an internal debate on whether to give organisations an overall rating late last week.

DoH fitness for purpose programme director Gareth Cruddace said the decision had been taken because the ratings were designed to be useful for organisations' internal improvement programmes.

'Aggregating the six ratings into an overall single rating does not add any extra value,' he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Cruddace said PCT chief executives will be expected to demonstrate a far greater degree of commercial nous to prosper as leaders of new organisations.

Chief executives appointed to run restructured PCTs and those of unreconfigured organisations will be measured against a new competency framework. New chief executives will be measured during their assessment process, while continuing PCT leaders will be assessed against it as part of their appraisal.

Those who lose their jobs as part of mergers will be given employment protection until June 2007. Those who lose their jobs because of failing performance would have no such protection.

Mr Cruddace denied that the new framework meant continuing chief executives were to be measured against new job descriptions, but admitted they need to have 'a higher degree of competency' in working in a more 'commercial environment.'

'The importance we're attaching to that primary role of commissioning is increasing,' said Mr Cruddace.

'We're not expecting them to do completely different things but we'll expect them to secure value for money services in a much more commercial environment,' he added.