Councils required to fund local networks

Councils will be required to fund organisations to represent the interests of health and social care users and hold commissioners and providers to account, under government plans.

Local Involvement Networks (Links) will replace existing patient forums and, unlike their predecessors, can examine social care New Assetand will be tied to areas rather than health trusts.

Health minister Rosie Winterton said councils and primary care trusts would be expected to publish regular reports showing how they had responded to Links’ representations.

If they were dissatisfied with the response, Links could appeal to strategic health authorities and the Healthcare Commission.

She promised adequate resources for the new bodies but said funding to councils would not be ring-fenced.

The Links will be expected to work closely with council health scrutiny committees.

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