HC Deb 18 May 2004 vol 421 c965W
Mr. Hoban

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance has been issued concerning the(a) number of and (b) population covered by primary care trusts. [173099]

Mr. Hutton

[holding answer 14 May 2004]: "The New NHS", published in 1997 set out a vision for the national health service and for primary care trusts (PCTs) as a key driver to improve health and make the NHS modern and dependable.

This was followed by two key guidance documents. The first document, issued in April 1999, "Primary Care Trusts Establishing Better Services", sought to address questions about how PCTs would be established and the principles for coverage and size. This was followed up with "Primary Care Trusts: Establishment, the preparatory period and their Function", which provided additional guidance on PCT boundaries.

Neither document specified numbers of, or population to be covered by PCTs. The function of PCTs is to meet local health care needs by making local decisions that respond to the community. PCTs were encouraged to centre around natural communities and to seek coterminosity with other bodies where appropriate. However, the overriding principle for determining a PCT boundary is a coherent and cogent focus on meeting the needs of all people living within that community.