Published: 15/12/2005 Volume 115 No. 5986 Page 9

Nurses are being urged to police consultations on the reconfiguration of primary care trusts, to ensure decisions about the future running of their services are not taken prematurely.

The Royal College of Nursing has issued a 'reconfiguration scorecard' to members so they can check and report on whether a series of policy commitments by government are upheld.

The union will be asking members to keep a particularly close eye on whether anything in local proposals 'prejudice the issue of whether or not PCTs could or should continue to provide services in the future'.

The move comes after the union agreed a deal with the Department of Health, the day before the RCN's demand for a judicial review was due to be heard. Under its terms, the government retracted its July directive urging PCTs to reduce their role in provision to a minimum.

In a letter confirming settlement of the review, health secretary Patricia Hewitt said the DoH's 'position on service provision by PCTs would remain what it always had been prior to the letter of 28 July sent by [NHS chief executive] Sir Nigel Crisp'.

However, Ms Hewitt went on to stress that she expects the Agenda for Change terms, conditions and pension rights of primary care staff to be protected if they transfer to new independent providers.

Ms Hewitt said in the letter that she is 'keen' to see barriers to staff transferring to new primary and community care providers removed.