Two thirds of primary care trust provider arms have not yet had their future form agreed by their board and strategic health authority, a survey suggests.

According to a survey of 83 PCT provider arms, one third said their service model had been agreed by their PCT board and the SHA before 1 October.

67% - PCTs yet to formally agree organisational model

29% - PCT providers that intend to ‘stay in-house’

28% - PCT providers that want to be a community foundation trust

This was the original deadline - now dropped - set out in the NHS operating framework for 2008-09 and the government’s Transforming Community Services guidance.

Around 40 per cent of providers said they had changed their plans as a result of the removal of the timetable, while the rest indicated that they were significantly advanced in their planning and were not changing pace.

The survey, carried out by the PCT Network, found that most PCT providers welcomed the relaxation of the original deadline for developing their plans.

A minority of respondents were concerned that the move could slow progress.

For example, one respondent said: “We need separation closure - not as an end in its own right - but mainly in order to allow us to move on.

“There is a danger as far as we are concerned in the perpetuation of uncertainty.”

The results of the survey, carried out in September, were announced on Tuesday at the network’s community services conference in London.

Overall most providers said they intended to “stay in house”, (29 per cent), or seek community foundation trust status (28 per cent). Only 4 per cent intended to become a social enterprise scheme.

Where decisions on provider models have been agreed, the preferred option was slightly more in favour of becoming a community foundation trust than remaining as providers within the PCT.

This trend was reversed for provider arms where no formal decision has been made.

The majority of providers, 58 per cent, said their planning had not been affected by the creation of the co-operation and competition panel in January.

Most were also positive about the panel’s impact, saying that it had improved dialogue with commissioners.

However, while the removal of the deadline was intended to allow increased focus on transformational change rather than form, the survey revealed that there was some way to go on commissioning and contestability plans for community services.

More than half, 56 per cent, said their commissioning arm did not have such a plan in place, although many commented that plans were in progress and would be presented to PCT boards before the end of the year.

PCT Network director David Stout said: “The removal of a deadline to agree upon organisational form has allowed providers to focus on transforming the quality and efficiency of services without being fixated on a timetable in which to change their model.

“However, it is important that the momentum for this transformation is not lost,” he added.

Providers were also asked to highlight their top priorities.

Top six priorities

  • Quality and patient experience
  • Improving productivity and value for money
  • Clinical care pathways
  • Workforce transformation
  • Integration and partnership working with local authorities and primary care
  • Metrics/data and IT