One of the NHS’s most high profile service restructures has had its start date delayed for a second time following warnings services could be destabilised unless the timetable is extended.    

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group has agreed to move the launch date for the restructure of its older people’s services - part of a contract deal worth £800m - from January to April 2015.

The decision follows a consultation on the plans. A CCG statement said: “In order to ensure patient safety during the transition, the CCG’s governing body has agreed to move the start date for the new integrated older people’s healthcare and adult community services contract from January to April 2015.

“Concerns were raised during the consultation that turnaround timescales were too tight between the appointment of the preferred bidder and the start of the contract.”

As part of the restructure, the CCG will appoint a “lead bidder” to create integrated acute and community services for older people. Providers’ income will be decided on the basis of delivering specified outcomes.

A paper discussed at the CCG’s July board meeting said Cambridge Community Services Trust, which provides many of the services in the scope of the new arrangements, told the CCG it would “strongly urge [it] to agree to a ‘go live’ date of 1 April 2015 to avoid destabilising services, particularly during a time when [services] across the system will already be under the known pressures of the winter period”.

The paper continued: “We consider that the existing time-scale, particularly the anticipated ‘go live’ date of early January 2015, is not realistic, primarily due to the acute contracts needing to be renegotiated and the time required for [staff to be transferred].”  

The new arrangements were originally intended to begin in July this year, but commissioners delayed them to January 2015 at an earlier stage.

There are three remaining bidders for the contract to lead the services, from an original 10 that expressed interest. They are:

  • Care for Life - Care UK, Lincolnshire Community Health Services Trust and Norfolk Community Health and Care Trust;
  • Uniting Care Partnership - Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust and Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust; and
  • Virgin Care.

The CCG has asked the shortlisted candidates to respond to the key messages received in its consultation, before it selects the preferred provider in September.

The bidders must give further details on how they will work with local authorities to join health and social care, how they will ensure a “rapid and effective” response from a single point of access 24/7 phone service, and how this will work with other phone accessed services including NHS 111 and the ambulance service.