The need for clinical assessment, treatment and support (CATS) services for Cumbria and Lancashire was identified two years ago by the former Cumbria and Lancashire Strategic Health Authority following the success of a similar scheme in Greater Manchester.
It is estimated that across the north-west the number of patients waiting for treatment needs to be reduced from 119,000 to 65,000 in order to achieve the 18-week maximum waiting time from general practitioner referral to treatment by the end of 2008. A combination of pathway reform, demand management and additional activity such as that offered through CATS is required to achieve this reduction in waiting list numbers.
Decisions about where patients are referred for treatment will continue to be made by patients and their general practitioners (GPs). The clinical assessment, treatment and support services in Cumbria and Lancashire will provide an additional referral option for patients and their GPs.
The Cumbria and Lancashire clinical assessment, treatment and support scheme is an integrated scheme between primary and secondary care. Communication between all health care providers in the local health economy is important to achieving this. Local clinicians have already been engaged with the scheme’s preferred bidder to this end, to achieve an integrated pathway for patients.
(2) how many staff, and at what grades, will be employed by Netcare in Lancashire and Cumbria to deliver the clinical assessment, treatment and support service contract;
(3) who will draft and agree the protocols under which the staff employed in Lancashire and Cumbria by Netcare will work.
The contract for clinical assessment, treatment and support (CATS) services is still under negotiation. All independent sector health care providers awarded contracts under phase 2 of the Independent Sector Treatment Centre procurement are required to comply with the policy of additionality which exists to ensure the conservation of national health service clinical skills in key professions.
As contract negotiations are still ongoing, precise staff numbers, experience, and skills sets are not finalised. However, it is thought that the scheme could employ approximately 150 whole-time equivalent clinical and non-clinical staff.
An independent sector provider awarded a contract to provide CATS services would be required to produce a workforce strategy, which would set workforce protocols. The protocols would be reviewed and approved by the Department.
The independent sector provider’s workforce policies are required to comply with all applicable and current United Kingdom employment legislation and departmental guidance and to demonstrate workforce best practice. In addition, independent sector providers are required to comply with the provisions of “Safer Recruitment—A Guide for NHS Employers (May 2005)”.