Headlines: January 10th, 2000

Health Minister John Denham has approved the establishment of the first 13 Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) which will be up and running by April 2000.Their task is to give local doctors, nurses and other health professionals more control over the way the NHS develops than ever before. The aim is to inject primary care expertise into the management of the frontline NHS in order to speed up and improve the whole experience of patients.

A typical PCT will control over 80% of the health spending on its local population, with powers to provide local health services such as community nursing, community hospitals and services for the elderly.

Trusts will also work with hospital clinicians to determine how other services are provided and to enable more services to be delivered closer to patients. And they’ll be expected to work in partnership with local authorities to improve care of patients in the community.

The 13 PCTs to start work on 1st April 2000 are South Manchester, Daventry, Southampton East, Fenland, North and South Peterborough, Tendring, Epping Forest, Southend, Central Derby, Mansfield, North East Lincolnshire, and Newark and Sherwood.

A further two PCTs have been given the go-ahead to start work in October 2000: Hertsmere and West Norfolk. Decisions on four other applications for an April start from the London and South West NHS regions will be made shortly, followed by a further round of more than 40 applicants for an October 2000 start.

PCTs are proven Primary Care Groups which have already taken on many powers, including commissioning. To become trusts and take on even more responsibilities, trusts must be supported by their local communities and be of a size and structure that firmly places local decision making in the hands of local clinicians, able to address local priorities and deliver local solutions to meet local problems.