Primary care trusts could save £3bn over five years through world class commissioning, the Department of Health has claimed.

It says if PCTs improve their performance in the health outcomes they have prioritised in world class commissioning by 25 per cent over five years, they will generate around 60,000 additional “quality adjusted life years”. Using its figure of £50,000 per QALY, this amounts to £3bn.

The figures are set out in an analysis of the health benefits that could be delivered by the commissioning assurance framework.

But it warns that PCTs will achieve this only if outcome measures are right, “stretch targets” are set, best practice is spread and commissioners deliver on their strategic plans.

It also begins to flesh out the world class commissioning assurance system for next year.

As predicted by HSJ, the timeframe for next year’s assessment has been put back.

PCT preparation will run from September to December, reports will be analysed between January and March 2010 and panel days will take place in April and May.

The DH is tendering for a partner to help it run the assurance process for 2009-10.

The department’s evaluation of the first year of world class commissioning found most strategic health authorities and PCTs thought the first year of the scheme had worked well, with only “fine tuning” required for next year.

But some staff raised concerns over whether competencies were defined clearly. One SHA respondent said: “The achievement of level two [of four], particularly in competencies six to 10, is a huge challenge… and yet the move from level two to level three is much less of a challenge.”

A PCT respondent said “clear definition” of the competencies was required.

The DH has said it will agree changes to world class commissioning “through consultation with the NHS” by the end of this month.