Headlines: July 3rd, 1998

The lack of accountability and scrutiny in the NHS could be addressed by inviting panels of councillors to oversee local health services, says a new report.

Another option is to boost the role of the community health councils, according the study, supported by the Institute of Health Services Management, the NHS confederation and the quality and consumer branch of the NHS Executive.

‘In the Public Interest: Developing a Strategy for Public Participation in the NHS’ was launched at the major three day conference on the future of the NHS held this week at Earls Court in London. It suggests several ways of improving accountability and scrutiny of the NHS at local level – direct participation by users, consulting citizens and establishing Area Panels of councillors to oversee health provision in their area.

Suzanne Tyler, IHSM Deputy Director, said: ‘It is all too easy to talk about public involvement but when it comes to changing the way managers, doctors and nurses work the reality is often very different. There needs to be less talk and more action and this report sets out the practical steps people can take to address these shortcomings.’

Copies of the report are free from the Department of Health, PO Box 410, Wetherby. LS23 7LN. Fax 0990 210266.