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NHS: Primary Care Trusts

Volume 712: debated on Wednesday 8 July 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures of performance are available to the public to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of primary care trust community services, particularly those providing district nursing and health visitors similar to those provided for acute hospitals. [HL4649]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the primary care trusts that are regarded by strategic health authorities as having “business ready” autonomous provider organisations; and when they envisage the remainder will achieve this status. [HL4650]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to require primary care trusts to subject new “business ready” autonomous provider organisations to a process of open competition to improve efficiency, effectiveness and value for money. [HL4651]

In January 2009, the department published Transforming Community Services: enabling new patterns of provision1, which describes our expectations of primary care trusts (PCTs) in achieving internal separation of commissioner and provider functions.

Strategic health authorities (SHAs) are responsible for overseeing this process, at local level, and for agreeing development plans to ensure all PCTs provider arms have moved into a contractual relationship with the PCT commissioning function by October 2010. Data on the progress of individual PCTs towards achievement of these aims are not currently held centrally.

Under the principles and rules for co-operation and competition in the National Health Service2 (NHS), it is for individual PCTs to decide and agree with their respective SHA which services should be subject to direct competition, the extent of such competition, and how this should be secured (having regard to these principles and rules).

We currently have no plan to depart from policy to require that PCTs subject their provider arm to a process of open competition.

Also, on 24 June 2009, we launched the Transforming Community Services Quality Framework: Guidance for Community Services3, which sets the direction for implementing the quality framework within community services. We have identified an initial set of 76 potential indicators to describe quality community services and we are now seeking views on these. The intention is that these indicators, once validated, will be published by the NHS Information Centre as part of the indicators for quality improvement and will be made more accessible to the public through publishing relevant indicators on NHS Choices.


1 Department of Health, Transforming Community Services: enabling new patterns of provision, January 2009.

2 The NHS in England: The Operating Framework for 2008-09 Annex D—Principles and Rules for Co-operation and Competition.

3 Department of Health, Transforming Community Services Quality framework: guidance for community services, June 2009.