The Department of Health has handed the NHS a set of 116 performance measures and 24 further priorities for 2011-12, as its “Stalinist controls” on the transition process become clear.

A letter to strategic health authority chief executives last week, seen by HSJ, says SHAs and primary care trusts must set out plans for performance against a range of indicators, many of which will be reported to the DH monthly.

The letter from NHS deputy chief executive David Flory says the DH will interrogate plans for 2011-12 and judge them against 24 “lines of inquiry”.

The tough planning process reflects what NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson has said would be a “strong grip” from the DH, with the intention of avoiding widespread deficits and growing waiting lists, as SHAs and primary care trusts move towards abolition. In November Sir David told the Commons health committee there would be “a whole series of what might be described as Stalinist controls on the system”.

The plans submitted by SHAs will be their last before abolition - set for April 2012. The guidance says they must have “mechanisms in place to support robust handovers to successor organisations” and “address any complex supra-PCT issues that need resolution before the disestablishment of the SHA”.

Among the performance measures are “thresholds” for referral to treatment times. The maximum tolerated is for 95 per cent of patients to be admitted within 18.3 weeks.

Key reform indicators include the proportion of commissioning spending delegated to emerging commissioning consortia, progress of trusts towards foundation status, and uptake of the “right to provide” policy for staff to take over services and become independent social enterprises.

Mr Flory says in the letter: “NHS organisations should have one integrated plan that brings together all key requirements across the areas of quality, resources and reform.”