NHS England to Consult on Corporate Form of Accountable Care Organisations

NHS England has halted the introduction of a new form of health provider - the Accountable Care Organisation - pending public and parliamentary consultation. Currently we have 8 Accountable Care Systems which are collaborations between CCGs and NHS providers to work in an integrated way to re-organise care pathways and their funding, but these have no separate corporate existence

The Berkshire West Accountable Care System - a collaboration between the merged Berkshire West CCG, Roayl Berkshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and the GP Alliances in Berkshire West (which are companies limited by shares) will come into being in April 2018. The hold up for consultation follows the successful crowd funding of two judicial review attempts against regulations bringing in a corporate form of Accountable Care Organisation without consultation and a letter from Dr Sarah Wollaston, chair of the Commons Health Select Committee to the Health Secretary asking for a delay while her committee takes evidence on the introduction of Accountable Care Organisations.

NHS bodies have to adhere to public standards like the Freedom of Information Act, standards in public life and the NHS constitution duty to meaningful consultation, but the proposed Accountable Care Organisations could be private bodies which would not be subject to such standards.

There will now be an enquiry by the Health Select Committee and a public consultation organised by NHS England into the introduction of Accountable Care Organisations.

It seems reasonable to insist that these bodies should be public bodies adhering to those standards, and it may be appropriate to place further obligations on them, such as "open book" relations with the public or elected bodies like local authorities.