Almost one in 10 of the planned transfers of community services from primary care trusts will miss the 1 April deadline, the Department of Health has admitted.
Out of a total of 281 transactions across the 151 primary care trusts planned under the Transforming Community Services programme, 25 are not expected to complete on time.
Stragglers include NHS Surrey, which put £650m worth of its community health provider arm out for tender last month and is one of three PCTs to receive an official extension to the April deadline.
The PCT now has until December to complete the transfers. NHS Milton Keynes, which plans to integrate its community services with Milton Keynes Hospital Foundation Trust, has until July while NHS Isle of Wight can keep its provider and commissioning arms right up until April 2013, when PCTs will be disbanded.
The DH declined a request to extend the deadline for NHS Suffolk after plans to transfer its specialist children’s services and all its adult services to Ipswich Hospital Trust and West Suffolk Hospital Trust were judged to be too risky. The services will stay with the provider arm Suffolk Community Healthcare while a tendering process takes place.
A DH spokeswoman refused to confirm which PCTs the 25 transactions were connected to as the figure is fluctuating on a daily basis.
She said: “The majority of [the 25] are significant transactions involving foundation trusts requiring detailed due diligence and assessment by Monitor. Where a major procurement process is underway an agreed timeline has been accepted by the DH to ensure a robust process delivers certainty for improved health outcomes and staff.”
NHS Isle of Wight programme director for transition Mark Price told HSJ the DH had agreed to extend the timetable provided the PCT completed an options appraisal by the end of March; made good progress on consortium commissioning; and separated its commissioning and provider functions as far as possible.
The PCT, which runs almost all NHS services on the island including the ambulance service, is looking to establish a community foundation trust.
NHS Isle of Wight was one of six PCTs originally given permission to remain as direct providers only for the decision to be revoked when the coalition published its revised operating framework in June last year, putting them on a tight timescale.
Of the remaining five, Cumbria Teaching PCT is transferring its services to Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust while NHS Wirral community services will move over to community foundation trust, Both are on course to meet the 1 April deadline.
A spokeswoman for NHS Knowsley said the PCT plans to sign an interim two year contract with 5 Boroughs Partnership Foundation Trust on 1 April while it works on a “range of options”, including its original “preferred” option of transferring community services to the local authority.
NHS Tower Hamlets is scheduled to transfer its services to Barts and the London Trust on 1 July although its wound care and lymphoedema services are applying to become social enterprises.
Stoke-on-Trent PCT is planning for a wholesale transfer of its services to Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Community Foundation Trust, which is also taking on the majority of services from South Staffordshire PCT and North Staffordshire PCT as well as social care services from Staffordshire County Council.
The new organisation could have as many as 5,000 staff and will be established in shadow form in April before taking over officially on 1 July.
South Staffordshire PCT chief executive Stuart Poynor, who is leading the transition, said: “We have had to have a very focused approach to get the job done; we have had to put pace into the project. However, we haven’t had any pressure around timescales.”