Significant workforce implications arise from the abolition of the strategic health authorities (SHAs), primary care trusts (PCTs) and a number of the arms length bodies together with the creation of the NHS Commissioning Board, commissioning consortia, and the new public health service. It is clear that the impact of the reform agenda will hit the workforce very quickly; starting with the arrangements for making senior appointments to PCT clusters prior to June 2011 as well as the assignment of employees to GP pathfinder commissioning consortia. There is a clear push to retain skills where needed and to minimize the impact of costly redundancies. It is hoped that the early assignment of employees will maximize the application of Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) protection for employees. The need to secure management efficiency savings of 45 per cent continues unabated.
Both the NHS Commissioning Board and commissioning consortia have the power to employ staff on such terms as they determine and in the case of the NHS Commissioning Board the remuneration arrangements will be subject to the approval of the Secretary of State. It will be interesting to see if there is a departure from Agenda for Change terms and conditions over the course of time.
We have official confirmation from the explanatory notes to the Bill and not the Bill itself that commissioning consortia are to be granted the status of “Employing Authorities” by way of amendment to the NHS Pension Scheme Regulations after the passage of the Bill. This means that like other NHS bodies commissioning consortia would be required to offer the NHS Pension scheme to their employees.
We also have clarification as to the accountable officer role to the commissioning consortia together with confirmation that the appointment will be the subject of veto by the NHS Commissioning Board. The post-holder can be either an employee or member of the commissioning consortia, and may hold the post for more than one commissioning consortia.
In order to maximize flexibility there is the overall power for the Secretary of State to establish staff transfer schemes in connection with the establishment, modification or abolition of a body by the Bill. Employees also have the comfort of transferring “as if” TUPE applied in these circumstances.
Further human resources guidance is expected in March when it is hoped that clarification as to the application of TUPE will be provided.