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New PECs to get more muscle on local NHS decisions

30 March 2007

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Clinicians on new professional executive committees (PECs) will gain greater control over local NHS priorities, policies and investment plans under new guidance published today (Friday 30 March 2007) designed to ensure that clinicians from a multiprofessional background are firmly part of primary care trusts’ (PCTs) decision making process.

New guidance for PECs, issued today by Health Minister Andy Burnham, advises that all PEC members should be appointed on the basis of their skills, competencies, and ability to lead. Clinicians must also be in the majority on the committees.

Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) will oversee the new arrangements to ensure that PCTs are effectively engaging their clinicians and using their PECs to design and deliver local services.

Health Minister Andy Burnham said: “Today’s guidance will re-establish and reinvigorate professional executive committees, giving clinicians from a multiprofessional background a greater say on local NHS decisions.

“Whitehall will do less dictating on what these committees will look like. PCTs will be free to decide how many members they need to have and the NHS will be able to bring in extra members to tackle specific challenges.

“With the introduction of practice-based commissioning and the delegation of budgets, there needs to be a stronger emphasis on commissioning. Strong professional executive committees can play a vital role in providing the effective managerial and clinical leadership needed.”

Dr Michael Dixon, NHS Alliance chair, said: “This new guidance ensures clinicians are at the centre of all major decisions in PCTs. Hopefully, its spirit will be followed elsewhere in the NHS. We particularly welcome the department’s own commitment to support the ‘three at the centre’ PCT leadership team and the advice contained within the guidance for SHAs.

“Most importantly, this guidance will reassure PEC clinicians that their role and input is valued and essential. It will also encourage frontline clinicians to support the PEC and their PCT. That is particularly important for the success of practice-based commissioning. The NHS Alliance is pleased that it was able to contribute significantly to the department’s review of the PEC.”

The main guidelines for the new PECs are:

  • PCTs to get the freedom to determine the structure and format of PECs according to local needs.
  • Members to be appointed against competencies, placing the emphasis on individuals’ skills.
  • PEC membership will be based on clear job descriptions, with appointments made on the basis of competencies.
  • PECs should not be dominated by one clinical group.
  • PECs to have a key role in driving forward practice-based commissioning, including advising and contributing to the overall direction.

PCTs are expected to implement the new guidance by 1 October 2007.