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24.01.18

Hunt to pause accountable care roll-out after MPs voice ‘great deal of concern’

Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt has revealed that NHS England and the government are likely to push back the creation of the first accountable care organisations (ACOs) until a national consultation can be held on the issue.

In a letter to the Commons Health Select Committee, Hunt said the details of exactly how ACOs will work, including the contract terms involved, need to be made clear before more work is done.

The news comes in response to letter sent last week from Sarah Wollaston, chair of the committee, which urged the health and care secretary to delay the introduction of ACOs until the committee had been able to hear evidence on the subject.

Wollaston said there had been “a great deal of concern” about the development of accountable care models, and that there needed to be a public forum to air these issues.

Hunt also revealed that some of the legislation surrounding ACOs, which was due to be enacted in February, is likely to be delayed until the consultation can be completed.

In her letter, Wollaston explained that a consultation would be a chance to hear “both sides of the arguments” on the implementation of ACOs.

Responding, Hunt said that he expected NHS England’s national public consultation on the draft ACO contract, which will be released in spring this year, would explain “what ACOs are and are not,” as well as covering the terms of the contract.

He added that some areas in England which have already begun to establish accountable care could be “in a position to sign an ACO contract later in 2018.”

ACOs are part of an attempt by central government to improve the integration of care between the NHS, local authorities and other partners.

It emphasises place and population rather than specific organisations or groups, and is hoped to improve some of the issues surrounding the link between health and social care.

The term ‘accountable care’ actually comes from the United States, where ACOs, under a slightly different format, were set up during President Obama’s health reforms.

Speaking to NHE earlier this month, Duncan Selbie, Public Health England (PHE) chief executive, explained the way accountable health will fit into the health system in the future, with reference to the way STPs will work within the NHS.

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Comments

Roger   24/01/2018 at 15:11

It should not be a matter of public consultation but an issue of parliamentary legislation. At present plans for ACOs are not sanctioned by law and work against everything that Parliament had approved supporting local decision making and competition between providers. Let the government present draft legislation to Parliament not try to sneak plans through by the back door.

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