Handover documents produced by primary care trusts have focused too much on past achievements and not enough on concerns for the future, the official overseeing the transition to the new commissioning system has told HSJ.

Ian Cumming, national director for quality during the transition, leads the national quality team’s assurance process. This has so far reviewed hundreds of documents produced for the handover from individual PCTs and strategic health authorities.

The process has also involved NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh and chief nursing officer Dame Christine Beasley.

Professor Cumming said the overall quality of the documents was good but he urged PCTs to make some improvements in the preparation of their final legacy documents.

The National Quality Board will publish guidance on producing these documents in June. PCTs and SHAs will be expected to have completed them by September and then keep the documents up to date until their abolition.

Professor Cumming told HSJ: “We don’t want these legacy documents to be documents about how fantastic the PCT was… We want this to be the concerns the PCT has about the services they commission and the things being done to address them.”

Other common weaknesses included a lack of patient perspective and insufficient consideration of non-acute services, primary care and the independent sector.

A dedicated website will be set up and PCTs and SHAs will be expected to use a template to create consistent, comparable documents.

It is expected the documents will be used as a basis for face-to-face conversations between outgoing chief executives and medical directors and their counterparts in clinical commissioning groups, the NHS Commissioning Board or the NHS Trust Development Authority.

Mr Cumming, former chief executive of NHS West Midlands, said this was the “most important part” of the handover process.

He added: “There may be a little niggle at the back of your mind that needs handing on and there may be no evidence to substantiate it but you want to make sure the person taking over is aware.”

Monitor, the Care Quality Commission and local authorities will also be able to contribute to the documents.

Why Ian Cumming turned down Bristol

Ian Cumming has denied he chose not to take up the post of chief executive at North Bristol Trust in order to become chief executive of the Care Quality Commission.

Some senior figures have privately linked the national quality director’s name to the role since incumbent Cynthia Bower announced her resignation last month.

On the same day, Professor Cumming announced he would not take up the North Bristol role he had been due to start next month.

However, asked if he would be considering applying for the CQC role, Mr Cumming did not rule it out. He said: “Ensuring the system keeps focused on quality and safety during the transition period was the reason I didn’t go to Bristol.”