'Consult on service change'
Increased efforts must be made to engage doctors and ensure they are given clear and accurate information during proposals for major service change, a review has concluded.
The review by Sir Ian Carruthers, chief executive of South West strategic health authority, also controversially concluded that finances are not the main driver behind major service changes in the NHS.
Proposals should be built on a 'clear evidence base of clinical and patient benefits', the review said.
Sir Ian said that consultation documents should contain 'specific, relevant, clear information written in plain English for local stakeholders to comment in an informed way'.
His report, Service Improvement: Quality Assurance of Major Changes to Service Provision, said: 'Every service improvement scheme should have a clear stakeholder engagement plan involving the most senior officers and clinicians in the organisation, which includes involving stakeholders routinely and regularly throughout the life cycle of the service improvement programme.'
Sir Ian highlighted that in several cases huge public campaigns to 'Save our Hospital' had been set up in the absence of any actual proposals to change services.