Primary care trusts' green credentials could be assessed as part of their annual health check from next year. It follows an Audit Commission consultation on how PCTs' annual performance is to be rated.

The proposed assessment criteria - or 'key lines of enquiry' - for PCTs will be used for both the new comprehensive area assessment and the use of resources element of the 2008-09 annual health check.

The five current strands of the assessment - financial reporting, financial management, financial standing, internal control and value for money - would be replaced with three broader themes: 'managing money', 'managing the business' and 'managing other resources'. This last would include an assessment of a PCT's action to tackle climate change through cutting greenhouse emissions as well as its use of IT and workforce planning.

PCTs will also be judged on how well they work with local partners such as councils.

The number of key lines of inquiry for financial management was cut to make room for the new criteria, but commission health managing director Andy McKeon said that did not mean it was more relaxed about NHS financial management.

'The new key lines of inquiry aim to keep the focus on making sure the financial management is good but we always want to move more into outcomes and less on process,' he explained. 'People would be wrong if they thought money wasn't important any more.'

He said the commission's continuing emphasis on financial management would be made clear in the relative weightings given to assessment criteria. Although these would be subject to a later consultation, he said, 'no doubt financial management will feature quite heavily'.

As well as adding the new areas of assessment, the commission is proposing to change the way it assesses financial management - for example it will now expect PCTs to demonstrate a thorough understanding of their costs.

The consultation closes on 15 February.