Local NHS bodies are failing in their legal obligation to consult the public on healthcare policy, according to a study.
Research by the NHS Support Federation found that plans have gone ahead for Darzi-inspired health centres despite the public not being informed.
The report recommends the Department of Health should drop its 31 December deadline for contracts to be signed, allowing more time to ensure that people have been given full information about the plans and a genuine opportunity to influence them.
The study revealed that various PCTs fell short of recommendations from Department of Health lawyers on how to consult.
It showed that out of 40 PCTs that were consulting, two thirds of PCTs did not ask local people whether they agree with the overall plan for a GP-led health centre.
Just 16% provided less than 12 weeks for responses – the minimum set out in the code on consultation – and 16% asked about the importance of the distance of travel to the new health centre.
Paul Evans, NHS Support Federation director said: “The public must be given a genuine influence over their local NHS. There is real danger that the public will become cynical about consultation and not take part.
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