A county council is setting up its own hotline for people who want to complain about or comment on local NHS services.

Kent county council plans to use data produced by the£300,000 Kent Health Watch service to provide quarterly monitoring reports for councillors and NHS staff.

But the 24-hour service has been criticised by some in the health service who argue it is unnecessary and could confuse patients.

The Conservative-controlled council says it will use staff at its existing call centre to "signpost" people through the system. It will use data from calls to provide quarterly reports to the NHS and its own health overview and scrutiny committee and to produce reports about particular issues of concern.

The move follows a damning Healthcare Commission report into infection control at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells trust. In the aftermath, the county council offered money and management support to the trust, but also decided to push ahead with Kent Health Watch, despite the new local involvement networks that will collect patient feedback on NHS services being set up across the country.

Social care - a council responsibility - may be included in the scheme later in the year.

Originally the council had suggested a more interventionist scheme, but this was modified after debate to create a more limited proposal, acceptable to the NHS. PCTs have been invited to sit on a steering group. Chief executive of West Kent primary care trust Steve Phoenix said he did not believe that the scheme was necessary, although the NHS would co-operate with it.

"There are some concerns that if it is not marketed properly it will not achieve its stated aim of helping to improve confidence in the local health system," he said. "Although we don't believe it is necessary, if it is going to be in place, we want it to work well. However, I could personally find better uses for£300,000."

But other NHS workers have suggested that people will use the system only for complaints and warn that patient confidentiality will need to be preserved.

Mike Eddy, leader of the Labour group on Kent county council and a former NHS non-executive director, said: "We just see it as clear example of attempting to use a stick to beat the NHS and, through that, the government."

NHS Alliance chief executive Michael Sobanja said there were precedents for setting up such "one-stop shops", but that it was essential that they were developed with the local NHS rather than in isolation or in an adversarial manner.