At the NHS Confederation’s annual conference in Manchester on Thursday, health secretary Andrew Lansley said following the listening exercise the health service must ‘move forwards’.
As part of this drive to ‘get back on the front foot’, a total of 35 new pathfinder groups have been authorised, taking the total up to 257. This now means that 97% of the population in England is now covered by pathfinders.
Mr Lansley also said he hoped that the ‘great majority’ of PCTs will delegate their budgets and commissioning responsibilities to commissioning groups by April 2012.
‘If 2012/13 is genuinely to be a year of preparation, it needs to include a substantial delegation of responsibility in the course of the coming year,’ he said.
He said by October next year, the NHS Commissioning Board will begin the process of authorising clinical commissioning groups, delegating budgets to them directly.
Mr Lansley said: ‘I know that while our plans were in flux some became less keen to commit to long term changes. Some of you would have felt unsure about how to proceed.
‘Well it is now time to regain the momentum… to focus again on the challenges we all face.’
Meanwhile, Mr Lansley said the pause allowed the government to address the concerns around the NHS reforms ‘head on’.
He said: ‘The Bill gave us the opportunity to build a greater sense of ownership essential for the proper implementation.’