Primary care trusts must be as swift to embrace change, innovation, spotting new trends and developing markets as the finance industry, according to the Department of Health.

Primary care trusts must be as swift to embrace change, innovation, spotting new trends and developing markets as the finance industry, according to the Department of Health.

DoH director of programmes Gary Belfield said there are unacceptable delays in disseminating best practice across the NHS: 'We must learn from industry to take new things up very quickly.

'In the US insurance market it takes around six months for everyone to be using a new product,' he said. 'Five years is too long for everyone to emulate the good things one place is doing ñ ·¥ must be quicker to learn from the best in order to compress performance gaps and reduce inequalities.'

Mr Belfield told an HSJconference last week that PCTs must embrace 'intelligent commissioning', which he defined as 'agile, consumer-focused and able to see and react to changes in demand ñ ·¥ can't change in five years' time, we need to change in six months'.

He said PCTs needed more training in leadership skills, needs assessment, market management, demand management, patient engagement, procurement and contracting and business analysis.

The Department of Health will be publishing a new framework to assist PCTs in commissioning from the independent and voluntary sector within the next two months, he said.

And Mr Belfield said the department was two-thirds of the way through analysing PCT fitness for purpose reviews which were revealing that every strategic health authority area had some 'superb PCTs' from which others could draw lessons.

But he promised that the DoH would not 'walk away' once each new PCT had signed off its development plan.

He admitted that PCTs were under pressure and added: 'One PCT chief executive told me, &Quot;never mind not being able to see the wood for the trees, I can't see the wood for the bark ñ ‰ am up that close to so many things.&Quot;'