Date Published: 5 December 2006

NHS leaders say they need to be more accountable to the public

On the day that the NHS Confederation launches its new Primary Care Trust Network, the leaders of the new organisations are sending a message that they need to become more accountable to patients and the public in their local communities.

In a recent poll chief executives and chairs of the 152 new primary care trusts were asked how strongly they agreed with the statement: PCTs accountability to their local population needs to be strengthened. Of the 134 respondents, 81% agreed or strongly agreed.

Views on how accountability should be strengthened were:

  • Nearly half (48.2%) of the chairs and chief executives responding felt that foundation trusts style membership was a possible way to strengthen accountability to local patients and the public
  • Just under 30% (29.6%) of respondents said that strengthening the role of overview and scrutiny committees would also help achieve stronger accountability to the local population
  • Around 10% (11.9%) said electing members of the public onto PCTs boards
  • And, 10% (10.4 per cent) said adopting local councillors onto PCT boards was another option that could work in the future

David Stout, the director of the new PCT Network, said:

NHS leaders recognise that they need to do more to improve accountability to their local communities. It will be a huge challenge for PCTs to genuinely engage patients and the general public, for example, in the debate about where and how local healthcare services are delivered. We now need a debate about how we can achieve this. Is it by electing local people onto PCT boards or by introducing foundation trust style membership to primary care trusts?

_ These are challenging times for PCTs. But at the same time there is a mood of optimism within the new organisations. Nearly nine out of ten PCTs say they are confident that they are in a good position to transform services and improve health in line with the reform agenda, even if growth in health spending slows.

Dr Gill Morgan, chief executive of the NHS Confederation which represents over 90% of NHS organisations, said:

The government was right to focus the reform agenda on the acute sector over recent years and we have seen real successes in reducing waiting times and improving patient care. But we now need a fundamentally different approach to the reform agenda that tackles wider issues.

The NHS Confederation PCT Network is launched today. PCT chief executives and chairs will be joined by the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Health and the NHS chief executive in looking at the challenges and priorities ahead.

The PCT Network will help its members improve health and patient care by influencing policy and the public debate, supporting learning within the new organisations and developing solutions with the wider NHS.


Source: NHS Confederation (UK).

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