Winner: Newham PCG Runners-up: Bradford South and West PCG; Oldham East PCG

Newham PCG

This is one of the biggest PCGs in the country, covering a registered population of 291,000, 133 GPs and 67 practices. It spends more than£160m a year.

The PCG drew up a community involvement strategy earlier this year that has become a tool for responding to health needs and coordinating health initiatives. Newham community health council praised the PCG's work on the local health improvement programme as 'groundbreaking and exciting'.

The PCG sees itself as a champion for Newham, highlights underfunding in the area and 'takes every opportunity to lever in extra funds'. But it also recognises that there is historical inequality within the borough. It is working to give all practices equal access to services such as counselling.

To show for its efforts are four new medical centres, a salaried GP scheme, 40 practices applying for third-wave personal medical services pilot status, published prescribing standards and more nurse prescribing. It has also set up the UK's first minor surgery consortium, pulled in£750,000 for diabetes, funded three hospital-based TB nurses and expanded services for unregistered patients.

It has not neglected its own development: there are standard staff contracts for all practices, a fully fledged performance/HR department and a PCG newsletter.

The judges said:

Working in deprived and challenging circumstances, the PCG has an intimate knowledge of its patch. It has created good peer bonding between professionals and used it very sensitively. At the same time, it has impressive examples of good practice to show. It has good working relationships with the local authority and is linked into its regeneration agenda, a suggestion that it has a very strong commitment to equity.

Bradford South and West PCG

This PCG covers 23 practices, 92 GPs and 147,000 people. It was expecting to become a primary care trust on 1 October.

The PCG believes that public involvement is vital for success and has held 'dozens' of meetings with local neighbourhood forums as well as developing links with traditional representative groups.

It has established a local health professionals group to give staff a role in developing the organisation. And it has worked with social services to establish a view of grassroots needs. The PCG's achievements include a successful move to PCT status when many applications were deferred.

Robust plans have been drawn up for developing nursing, human resources and information technology. The PCG has already established a GP specialist scheme involving 32 GPs that has led to significant reductions in waiting lists and outpatient waiting times. It is developing other primary care specialists and centres for them to work in.

It has also established a diabetic register, reduced waiting lists and times in five areas and driven up standards in cardiac care.

The judges said:

A unique example of what primary care can do in terms of taking on sub-specialist care and improving waiting by getting joined-up thinking between social services and acute trusts.

It would have been a worthy winner, but the judges decided that the PCG that had created the greatest change should get the award.

Oldham East PCG

This is one of three PCGs in the West Pennine health authority area and covers 50 GPs in 17 practices. It is strongly founded on the former Oldham fundholding group, which in turn evolved into a total purchasing pilot.

The PCG has a patient involvement group, open board meetings and wide coverage by the local press. It has created its own intranet for staff communications and established links to partner agencies.

The PCG has worked on a development programme with the North West Centre for Health Care Development. This should help practices improve the management of key diseases, establish basic standards, build capacity and create a culture of continuous learning. There are half-day practice closures for service improvement and personal development.

The PCG has also set up collective learning sets as a vehicle for improvement, particularly in coronary heart disease management, mental health, asthma control and cancer services.

It is now consulting on a merger proposal with its neighbouring PCGs to form a single primary care trust for Oldham.

The judges said:

This PCG has taken techniques from the private sector and is learning from the US - it is very creative and innovative. Its collective learning sets are models in themselves of how clinical governance might develop in PCGs generally. It is trying to move the PCG to excellence - it's not quite there yet, but the groundwork has been laid.