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PCTs to lose operational responsibility in just seven weeks after management transition is brought forward

PCT and SHA managers will lose their operational responsibility for the NHS from October, a full six months earlier than planned, the Department of Health has announced.

In a letter sent out yesterday, NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson said senior management from new organisations the NHS Commissioning Board and the NHS Trust Development Authority would be handed management responsibility for existing organisations from 1 October to ensure ‘stability and resilience’ through transition and to avoid a leadership vacuum.

But PCTs and SHAs will retain formal statutory functions, accountability, budgets and employment of staff until their official abolition date in April 2013.

The letter says leaders given these roles will be accountable to their new organisations for ‘future planning and development’ and be accountable to PCTs/SHAs for relevant delivery in the current financial year.

It adds: ‘These arrangements will embed new system leaders in the current system, providing continuous leadership and minimising complexity for staff carrying out roles relating to the current and new system.’

Sir David said the arrangements ‘will not impact on CCGs or local authorities as they prepare for their key roles in the new health and care system’.

In a separate letter to chairs of PCTs and SHAs, Sir David added: ‘This should be the last significant organisational change prior to April 2013.

‘It will have considerable impact on PCT chief executives and boards and will present a huge leadership challenge. I know I can rely on your continuing commitment to working in the best interests of the NHS during the transition to ensure its successful implementation.’