Health Bill to be delayed three months, NHS chief executive admits

Sections of the Health Bill will be delayed by three months as a result of the government's listening exercise, the NHS's chief executive has admitted.

Sir David Nicholson: the listening exercise must not divert attention from the ‘core purpose and responsibilities’ of the year ahead
Sir David Nicholson: the listening exercise must not divert attention from the ‘core purpose and responsibilities’ of the year ahead

In a letter to NHS managers and consortia pathfinder leads, Sir David Nicholson said the scrapping of SHAs, which was expected to take place in April 2012, will not happen before July 2012.

But the deadline for GP consortia taking control of commissioning remains as April 2013, he said.

Sir David said handing the NHS Commissioning Board its full statutory powers and starting the first phase of giving economic regulator Monitor its new powers will be delayed as a result of the listening exercise.

The timeframe for implementing HealthWatch England and handing the NHS Trust Development Authority, Health Education England and Public Health England will also be affected.

Sir David said all of these changes, which were due to take place in April 2012, will now take place ‘no earlier than July 2012’.

He said reponses to the listening exercise could lead to changes of some parts of the Health Bill. But he said the exercise must not divert attention from the ‘core purpose and responsibilities’ of the year ahead.

‘I know that to some the message to press on with the implementation while significantly increasing our levels of engagements on our plans may seem paradoxical,' he said. 'I don’t believe that it is.'

He added: ‘Maintaining momentum for transition and driving deeper engagement are important goals, but focussing on delivery in order to improve quality for our patients and value for taxpayers must always be our over-riding priority.’

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