A report Leading Local Change, published by the health minister today (9 May 2008), sets out the key principles underpinning how primary care trusts should handle changes to services.
The government’s review, which is being led by Lord Darzi, has sparked widespread concerns that local services like pharmacies and GPs surgeries will be forced to relocate into more remote polyclinics.
Changes locally led
Lord Darzi said that any changes made to the provision of NHS services should be clinically driven but locally led, adding that different places’ varying needs are best met by grassroots solutions.
He said: "The right way of doing this is to put local clinicians in the lead, with the public and relevant independent experts consulted and involved at an early stage.
"Ensuring that changes are based on the strongest clinical evidence and are relevant to their local communities. The role of national bodies has to be to support local clinicians with the best evidence.”
As part of the decision-making process, outlined in the document, councils may use their overview and scrutiny committees to review proposals for changing local services.
In areas where reform proposals cover more than one local authority, the Department of Health is exploring the introduction of local mediation where different councils’ overview and scrutiny committees cannot agree.
In addition, overview and scrutiny committees will have the right to refer decisions to the secretary of state for health if they believe that the proposal does not serve the interests of local services.
Lord Darzi will be publishing his final NHS review report in June.