• NHS England publishes consultation on national contract for integrated care providers 
  • Dudley CCG likely first implementer of the contract
  • NHS organisations most likely to hold ICP contract, says NHS England

The creation of new accountable care organisations to deliver health services has moved a step closer after NHS England launched a long awaited consultation on a proposed contract.

The national commissioning body has launched a 12 week public consultation on its proposed draft contract which will allow the creation of what it has called integrated care organisations.

These ICOs will operate under a single long term contract with commissioners to deliver health and care services in their area.

The consultation was launched on 3 August and due to end on 26 October after which NHS England will decide whether to issue the national contract for use by commissioners.

It had originally published the draft contract in 2017, but had to delay its implementation after two judicial reviews and a parliamentary inquiry into its planned contract were launched.

Both judicial reviews were rejected while MPs backed the proposals saying they were “a ‘pragmatic response’ to pressures in the system.”

NHS England had previously identified two areas as likely first implementers of the contract – Dudley and Manchester.

However, in an announcement last week it said: “Subject to the outcome of the consultation, the area that is at the forefront and may choose to use a contract of this sort is Dudley. The bid for this proposal is led by an NHS body, and has the support of local GPs.”

This came after commissioners in Manchester told HSJ last week, they would first need to consider the “benefits” of the national contract before using it beyond April 2019.

In its consultation document NHS England said statutory organisations are most “likely” to hold an integrated care provider contract but if the model is based on primary and community services the contract could also be held by a GP federation. 

HSJ previously reported that national regulators were considering creating a new statutory organisation to hold the contracts.

However, in the latest consultation document the regulator said: “ICPs are not new types of legal entity. An ICP would be simply an organisation which has entered into an ICP Contract with commissioners.”