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Primary Care Trusts and Sustainable Development

10 October 2003

JOINT PRESS RELEASE: NHS Alliance & Sustainable Development Commission

Seeing the wider picture:
Primary Care Trusts and Sustainable Development

The NHS Alliance and the UK Sustainable Development Commission today announced their new collaboration, looking at how Primary Care Trusts are dealing with the sustainable development agenda. Jonathon Porritt the UK Sustainable Development Commission's Chairman said:

'This is an exciting and important development for both organisations. Primary Care Trusts have a key role to play in the delivery of sustainable development, but that can only start to happen if they engage fully with their local communities.'

As a huge employer, purchaser, commissioner of buildings and a major cause of travel, the NHS is in a unique position to help the UK move towards sustainable social, economic and environmental development. NHS Alliance chairman Dr Michael Dixon explained:

'Primary care accounts for over 90% of NHS activity and primary care trusts hold 75% of the NHS budget. It is therefore essential that we build on the good practice of those Primary Care Trusts already taking a sustainable approach.'

The joint work will initially investigate how PCTs are engaging with front line staff and local communities in managing the sustainability issues concerned with new builds or estates refurbishments, involving looking at issues of design, shared space, local access and impact on the local environment, economy and community. This is an important part of the Sustainable Development Commission's Healthy Futures work programme on promoting sustainable development in the NHS.

The work will assess whether these issues are being dealt with within Local Strategic Partnerships and the extent to which PCTs are working jointly with Local Authorities to ensure that new building developments not only meet the needs of local communities, but also contribute to a sustainable future.

At present much of the NHS focus is on patient choice. There is a need to ensure that choices for individuals are sustainable and equitable. This requires a community approach and community engagement.

Notes for editors

1. For more information, contact: Pat Goodall, NHS Alliance, tel: 01246 410707, mobile: 07718 162976, email p.goodall@nhsalliance.org or Susannah Senior, Sustainable Development Commission, tel: 020 7082 8840, email susannahsenior@defra.gsi.gov.uk.

2. The Sustainable Development Commission is the Government's independent sustainable development advisor, reporting to Tony Blair and the devolved administration leaders. The Commission's objectives include advocating a compelling vision of a sustainable economy and society, and reviewing how far sustainable development is being achieved in the UK across all sectors. More information can be found at: www.sd-commission.gov.uk

3. The NHS Alliance is the independent body representing primary care and Primary Care Trusts (and other primary care organisations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). It is committed to the critical partnership between managers, clinicians and lay members within PCTs, and to the larger partnership between the NHS and the public. More information can be found at: www.nhsalliance.org

4. Sustainable development provides a framework for redirecting our economies to enable everyone to meet their basic needs and improve their quality of life while ensuring that the natural resources on which they depend are maintained and enhanced, both for their benefit and for that of future generations.

5. The Sustainable Development Commission has recently published Healthy Futures: sustainable development opportunities for the NHS. This publication introduces the SDC's new Healthy Futures project, which aims to support the NHS in exploring how it can maximise its contribution to a healthier population, a better environment and stronger economies and communities. The project is led by Anna Coote (SDC Commissioner and Director of Health Policy at the King's Fund), and it focuses on two areas in the NHS: food and the capital building programme. For a copy of the publication, and more information about the project see www.sd-commission.gov.uk/wp/10.htm, or contact Susannah.senior@defra.gsi.gov.uk or

6. Local Authorities are charged with setting up Local Strategic Partnerships by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR). They should include local authority, health, voluntary & community sector, business and community representatives. They are responsible for developing the Local Strategic Plan and setting up a Local Learning Plan. Public Enquiries: 020 7238 4995

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