New legislation will come into force in April 2010 to help the NHS become more accountable to local people.
The NHS duty to report on consultations will require all PCTs and strategic health authorities that commission services to explain how they have acted upon feedback from patients and the public.
A guide called Real Accountability has been published to help the NHS get ready for the legislation. It aims to help raise the bar in the way organisations listen and respond to the views of local communities.
The guidance explains the legal obligations of PCTs and SHAs. It also provides practical help and advice in terms of preparing and publishing reports.
Paul Streets, Director of Patient and Public Experience and Engagement at the Department of Health, said: "The evidence is clear, if the NHS listens to patients and acts up what it is told, this can result in new ideas, better value for money and better care.
"The NHS Constitution makes clear the public's right to be involved in decisions about the planning and delivery of local services. This new legislation will help the NHS to demonstrate that it is responding to the experiences and views of local people.
"Some organisations are leading the way in understanding what really matters to the public and using this information to improve services. However, we need to make this approach part of the DNA of the NHS."
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"I am very keen on seeing the Sir Liam Donaldson Chief Medical Officer's suggestion of a legal duty of candour put in place as soon as possible. See the AvMa site (www.avma.org.uk) for indepth detail on this very important way forward for the NHS. The savings that will be achieved would be enormous – and will also be a great benefit to staff and patients alike – Sir Liam is definitely on to something worthwhile here" – George Kuchanny, Bristol
"Yes, and in addition I would like the local hospitals to be subject to the same rules and that in future the chair of any NHS organisation is chosen by local people!!" – Malcolm Felberg, Surrey