Mutual trust and transparency is the key to successful joint working between primary care trusts and the pharmaceutical industry, according to a medical director who has worked for both sides.

Between September and December 2009, NHS Peterborough carried out a patient engagement project to help develop a care pathway for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, with input from GlaxoSmithKline.

The project was part of a wider patient engagement programme run by NHS East of England – called the 90 Day Challenge – which also involved initiatives by NHS North East Essex, NHS South West Essex and NHS Suffolk.

Speaking at the HSJ managing long term conditions conference in Harrogate last week NHS Peterborough medical director Richard Spiers, formerly medical director of 3M Healthcare, said both sides could benefit from working together.

He said: “You need to need to be open about what you want and the company will be open about what they want.

“Your objectives must be clear. You need to know what you are going to get out of it, define your benefits. Make sure the ground rules are clear. But actually if you have good trust…. you’re going to get on with them fine, and if you have a rocky patch you’ll be able to sort it out,” he told delegates.

However he added: “You’ve got to have board level buy in. If they are wimpy about it, you’ve got to convince them.”