The NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB) has shared the final guidance for the checkpoint 3 stage of the commissioning support service (CSS) business review and assurance process outlining key requirements, including a financial model template. Checkpoint 3 will begin on 31 August when CSSs send full business plans, a financial model and a balanced scorecard to the NHSCB. It will visit CSSs and survey their customer CCGs in September and make a final decision in October.

CSSs who pass the NHSCB’s (the board) assurance process will be given a “licence to operate” setting out the rules under which they will conduct business while they are “hosted” by the board before they are “externalised” to become independent organisations. This is expected to be by April 2016. More information on the board’s hosting arrangements will be known in the autumn with the publication of a guide to hosting providing details of the hosting charge and the governance arrangements that will underpin the CSSs’ operations.

In addition to the licence, each CSS will be given an updated development plan with “binding obligations” that need to be met before hosting on 1 April 2013.

The licence will be provisional from October 2012 and “more formal” from April 2013. More information on this will be published in the Autumn. As part of these arrangements there will be two additional checkpoints during hosting – Checkpoint 4 in November and Checkpoint 5 in January – “both designed to further assure the CSSs’ ” business plans”.

The guidance is clear that if a CSS breaches its licence terms the board could terminate operations. There is also the requirement for CSSs to set out their projected income and expenditure for four years across each of the service lines and by each customer including clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), the board and specialised commissioning authorities.