Primary care trusts have the green light to link payment to local quality improvement goals with the unveiling of the methodology for the commissioning for quality and innovation framework (CQUIN).

As promised in the next stage review, this year’s tariff uplift does not include a quality element; instead PCTs can make 0.5 per cent of contract value dependent on meeting local criteria.

Acute services will have a CQUIN scheme linking payment to local quality and innovation goals. Providers will lose income if they do not agree to a CQUIN scheme.

For community, mental health and ambulance services, PCTs can either use CQUIN or link payment to an agreed improvement plan.

Future scope

There is scope to introduce it for out of hours services and local enhanced services in primary care, although it cannot replace the quality and outcomes framework.

In future, PCTs will be able to benchmark provider organisations using the data.

PCT Network director David Stout said the scope of CQUIN was likely to be limited in the first year: “There has to be benchmarked data to use. It’s quite likely the first year [will] focus on getting a dataset in the first place.”