Commissioners should note that the DH's response to the consultation on local authority health scrutiny is now available. The report provides an overview and analysis of the responses received and the action the Department intends to take to address the points raised.

The new arrangements for health scrutiny will build on the existing system including:

  • extending scrutiny to all providers of NHS care, whether they’re from a hospital, a charity or an independent provider
  • requiring organisations proposing substantial service changes and the local authorities scrutinising those proposals to publish clear timescale for decision-making, so patients know when they can expect changes
  • requiring local authorities to take account of the financial and clinical sustainability of services when considering NHS reconfiguration proposals
  • seeking the help of the NHS Commissioning Board in liaising with local authorities and commissioners to secure local agreement on some service reconfigurations and ensuring that proposal for change meet the Secretary of State’s “four tests”.

The Department's intention is to publish draft regulations early next year, with a view to them coming into force in April 2013.