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Editor's blog 4th August 2008: Localism - easy to mouthe, but hard to swallow

Good evening.

Today we have new Maynard Doctrine, looking at the issue of variation in nursing practice; and Health Policy Today, which notes the story in the Daily Telegraph that Conservative Freedom Of Information requests have found that 1/3 of PCTs are not intending to consult with their community.

This builds on Tom  Smith’s reporting last Thursday that Health Secretary Alan Johnson suggested that a PCT’s choice to extend access with new providers over-ruled local preferences to improve access through new arrangements with local GPs.

The responsibility that passed into law in Section 11 of the 2003 Health and Social Care Act for PCTs to consult their population over significant changes to service provision is a significant part of policy.

It did not prevent reconfiguration decisions being over-ruled by ministers, as when former health secretary Patricia Hewitt improperly interfered with the independent reconfiguration panel’s choice of St Helier Hospitals NHS Trust in Labour MP Siobhan McDonagh’s Merton and Morden constituency, where a clear local NHS preference for a site in Lib Dem-held Sutton had been expressed.

Localism is easy to mouthe, but it seems ministers can still find it hard to swallow.