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‘Challenging’ deadline for service plans

The CSP is calling on members to get involved urgently in shaping the new structures that will deliver community services, as events gather pace.

Primary care trusts must have agreed their proposals with strategic health authorities by 31 March this year, for implementation by 31 March 2011.

The Society says the deadline for transforming community services is ‘extremely challenging’. Lesley Mercer, CSP director of employment relations and union services, said: ‘Urgency is now the key. There is a short window for all members to have their say if they have not already done so.

‘It’s important that frontline expertise is fed into the decision-making process. Proposals and consultation in some areas are at a more advanced stage than others.’

The Department of Health has issued a document to support both PCTs, in developing their proposals, and SHAs, whose job is to assure and approve them. Any changes and new models must ensure that the transfer of care and treatment from hospital to community settings and community services is ‘more integrated, efficient and people-centred’. The three most likely options for PCTs are: integration with an NHS acute or mental health provider; integration with another community-based provider; social enterprise. Other models could see community services delivered by community foundation trusts or care trusts, or continue to be directly provided by PCTs. However, these latter options are ‘not expected to be the norm’, says the document, which specifies there is no national blueprint. Where PCTs consider there is a case for services to be put out to tender, they must follow the ‘NHS is our preferred provider policy’, which has already been set out.

The CSP has welcomed the new guidance for stating more clearly than before that PCTs must demonstrate what they have done to involve staff and unions and declare how much support they have for their proposals.

In addition, regional social partnership forums must be fully engaged in the process of assurance.

Lesley Mercer said: ‘Health unions have had input into the guidance. We are pleased that the importance of establishing a consensus for the best option is now being stressed.’ The CSP has drawn up advice for stewards to ensure the guidance is applied in full at local level and that there is meaningful consultation.

Further information and search ‘stewards guidance’



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