From April, Local Involvement Networks (LINKs) will replace patient forums and have the power to observe service providers and report on their quality of service.
New LINK regulations state that any healthcare provider must 'allow authorised representatives to observe activities on such premises'. Exceptions will be made if the visit compromises the privacy of a patient.
Health minister Anne Keen said PCTs must ensure that LINKs were given the right level of access to data from the private sector too. 'Changes are aimed at promoting open and transparent communication between communities and the health service,' she said.
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