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Health service managers and unions have welcomed guidance designed to ensure that human resource standards are maintained for staff transferring to primary care trusts.

It sets minimum standards and says PCTs will be expected to adopt a strategic approach to HR management in line with the government's framework document, Working Together.

The guidance has been drawn up by a working group. chaired by NHS deputy HR director Steve Barnett, following widespread concern that employment issues were not being fully addressed in PCT advice.

Sunderland health authority chief executive Clare Dogdson said she felt 'very positive' about the circular.

'I am particularly pleased at the requirement for a personal development planning system for staff and the idea of jointly agreed appraisal arrangements.'

Central Nottinghamshire Health Care trust HR director Jean Hardy said: 'It is extremely important that new PCTs are robust organisations that are built on a solid foundation of good HR practice.

'Given that PCTs will vary in size, setting minimum requirements is not only helpful but very necessary if we are to ensure they are capable of delivering the HR agenda.'

John Humphreys, senior employment relations adviser at the Royal College of Nursing, said it was 'very helpful to flag up to the service that HR issues are important and must be considered along with all the other issues in establishing PCTs.'

Further guidance will be issued in November.

Minimum requirements to address human resource issues in primary care trusts.