Monitor has announced that it is now accepting applications for licences from the independent sector. From April 2014 Monitor will be required to provide qualifying independent providers with licences to operate. All independent providers with a turnover from NHS-funded care exceeding £10m and delivering services deemed ‘essential’ by commissioners qualify for such a licence. This reflects changes to legislation made by the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
The expansion of Monitor’s regulatory remit has been made partly in response to the collapse of Southern Cross three years ago. It is intended to protect patients by preventing the financial mismanagement and failure of independent providers. The CQC will continue to regulate quality of care.
Monitor will be responsible for actively scrutinising the financial performance of independent providers that fit the above specification on an ongoing basis. Should problems be identified that could disrupt provision of services Monitor have stated they will act quickly to ensure continuation of services. Serious breaches of licence conditions can cause providers to incur fines or lead to the appointment of special administrators.
In December Monitor launched a consultation, which closes in February 2014, on how it should assess financial risk at independent organisations that provide essential NHS-funded services.
A spokesman for the regulator stated that financial monitoring should be robust but workable. He said “It can’t be too burdensome because small or medium size providers – the charities and hospices – will find it too onerous…Equally it can’t be too light touch otherwise we won’t see financial risk developing two or three years out.”