Trusts that opt to roll over 2014-15 national tariff prices to 2015-16 will still be able to agree local variations with commissioners, national pricing authorities have said.
Providers that decide not to operate under the new voluntary tariff agreement will also be allowed to amend the baseline to the marginal rate emergency tariff, according to a document from the pricing authority.
Monitor and NHS England offered the two options in an attempt to give the NHS certainty over prices after initial tariff proposals were rejected by providers accounting for three-quarters of all tariff funded services.
Under the Health Act 2012, this means the pricing authorities must either revise their proposals and re-consult the sector, or refer them to the Competition and Markets Authority for review.
The deadline for providers to submit their pricing preference is 4 March.
The document, published by Monitor last night, says: “[Local modifications and variations will be permitted] provided that the commissioners are willing to do so and the proposed variation or modification is in accordance with the rules set out in section 7 of the 2014-15 national tariff payment system.”
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Providers that do sign up to the voluntary scheme, which will offer hospitals reduced savings targets and changes to the controversial cap on specialised care payments, will also be able to retain previously agreed local variations.
It has also been confirmed by the pricing authorities that trusts that decide to roll over 2014-15 prices will not be eligible for commissioning for quality and innovation payments, even after a new 2015-16 tariff is in place.
The document says: “The 2015-16 CQUIN guidance will make clear that no CQUIN is available in 2015-16 unless the provider has opted for the [voluntary] enhanced tariff option.
As previously reported, providers on the voluntary scheme will continue to be able to earn up to 2.5 per cent of their contract income through CQUIN.
Commissioners will continue to be required to increase overall spending on mental health services, regardless of which of the two pricing options selected by their providers.
The document adds: “NHS England will be checking, through the planning process, the level of increase in mental health spend that each [clinical commissioning group] is planning for.”
Independent sector providers of NHS services will also need to make a choice between opting for the voluntary tariff or to continue with this financial year’s national prices.
HSJ reported last week that providers that choose not to accept the voluntary tariff will not be allowed to opt in at a later stage.
They will be able to continue operating on 2014-15 prices until the point that a new tariff is set.