Monitor has published a consultation document on a new licensing regime covering the NHS, independent and third sector providers. The licence consultation will start on 31 July 2012 and run for 12 weeks until 23 October 2012.

The licence will be one of the main ways Monitor protects patients’ interests as it regulates providers of NHS funded services in England.  

The new regime is intended to ensure that services regarded as crucial for patients - so called commissioner requested services (CRS) - continue even if a provider faced financial difficulty.  

It will set out various conditions providers must meet including those relating to:  

  • Pricing
  • Preventing anti-competitive behaviour which is against the interests of patients
  • Enabling integrated care
  • Supporting commissioners to maintain service continuity
  • The governance of foundation trusts

The DH will shortly be consulting on areas relating to the licence, for example its proposals for which providers will be required to hold a licence and which will be exempt.

Another area in consultation lacking clarity is guidance to help determine the scope of CRSs.

All providers of NHS funded services, including those in the independent and third sector will need to have a licence from Monitor in addition to their licence from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) although Monitor and CQC are expected to work towards a joint-licensing regime. This will be in place in 2014.  

The current proposal is for all NHS foundation trusts to transfer across to Monitor’s new licensing regime automatically from April 2013 and other providers needing a licence from April 2014, subject to the results of this consultation.