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DH tables regulation changes to ease development of ACOs

New changes to regulations on the running of NHS standard contracts for Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs) have been tabled by the government this week.

The changes will ensure that current rules continue to apply to the new contract, and organisations who adopt it. There will also be increased flexibility for organisations, such as GPs, who want to enter into ACO arrangements without terminating their existing contracts. 

The government consultation opened on Monday and is inviting feedback and comments up to 2 November.

DH also stated that it hopes to lay the proposed regulations before Parliament in the New Year with the intention that they take legal effect from February 2018, subject to Parliamentary process.

Some of the proposed changes include amendments to expand the scope of the definition of ‘commissioning contract’ to include contracts used for integrated commissioning of primary care.

It will also allow holders of General Medical Service contracts to suspend those contracts to participate in a fully integrated ACO, and ensure that existing restrictions on the sale of the goodwill in a medical practice also apply to providers of primary medical services under an ACO Contract and to sub-contractors providing primary medical services under an ACO contract.

“The development of the ACO contract has been taken forward jointly with the DH, commissioners and vanguard organisations across the country,” the consultation document states.

“Through this process a number of required changes to regulations have been identified. In some cases the proposals create additional flexibilities, for example for GPs who wish to enter into ACO arrangements without terminating their existing contracts.

“However, the vast majority of the changes proposed are minor, to ensure that current rules continue to apply to the new contract, and those organisations using it.

“NHS England has requested that the proposed changes are made by February 2018, to ensure they are in place to allow the first ACO contracts to be commissioned.”

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