Alan Carpenter strongly believes his sideways move into the chief executive's job at Somerset Coast PCG is the way forward.

Eight years as chief executive of East Wiltshire Health Care trust provided him with what he calls an 'excellent organisational model for getting all bits of the jigsaw fitting together properly'.

But he argues that in terms of his own career, PCGs represent the future of the NHS. 'These days you can't always look upwards because the jobs are not always there. You have to look sideways.'

Married to a psychiatrist and with two children, Mr Carpenter and his family live in Bristol. Somerset Coast PCG covers 90 GPs and a population of 150,000, stretching from Porlock to Breen Sands, south of Weston-Super- Mare.

'I feel there is a great weight of expectation on PCGs. They have got to get it right and deliver for five to 10 years,' he says. One of his first acts as chief executive was to meet the board and sketch out an organisational development plan for the next three to four years. He believes that one of the keys to success is to involve all local stakeholders.

'It will also be my role to ensure a clear voice for other groups, nurses, lay people and other agencies as well as bringing in and nurturing GPs at the fringes of involvement in the PCG.'

He adds: 'Primary care trusts could emerge in an area and become a very useful employment vehicle for all kinds of services, including salaried doctors. I would like to see PCGs and trusts develop as organisational entities fizzing and buzzing with ideas.'