§ Dr. Lynne Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the benefits arising from the introduction of primary care trusts. 274W
§ Mr. Denham
Primary care trusts (PCTs) are local, relevant and accessible organisations to both the community they serve and the clinicians who provide the care. PCTs have a range of freedoms and flexibilities greater than any other health service body. They provide improved support to practices and clinicians, commission and deliver improved services through the integration of primary and community health care and shape services in response to the needs of their local populations. They bring decisions about services closer to patients and local communities, ensuring that they are taken by those who understand their patients' needs. PCTs are demonstrating an ability to balance local knowledge against capacity to manage the provision services and the management resources to deliver Owing to the flexibility PCTs have to form responsive local services, there exists a large variety of initiatives across the country.
One hundred and twenty-four new PCTs became operational on 1 April 2001 bringing the total number of PCTs to 164. In two years, the percentage of the population in England whose healthcare is being delivered by a PCT has risen from zero to approximately 48 per cent. The benefits of PCT status for services to patients, the public and for healthcare are being realised now that the first 17 PCTs have completed their first year of operation.