The National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professionals Act 2002 received royal assent on 25 June 2002. The act abolished health authorities in England, passing some of their functions to the 28 new strategic health authorities (SHAs), delegating most of their residual functions to primary care trusts (PCTs) and making the role of the SHA a performance management one. The act also required the secretary of state to establish SHAs for the whole of England and replaced the existing powers of the secretary of state to establish primary care trusts (PCTs) with a duty to establish PCTs to cover all areas in England.
The act strengthened the independence of the Commission for Health Improvement (CHI). The act provided for CHI to inspect and report on services, recommended special measures in cases of poor quality or failing care, required CHI to make an annual report on the quality of NHS services and provided for CHI to appoint its own chief executive. The act also provided for the creation of an independent patients forum for every NHS trust and PCT in England, which could monitor, inspect and provide representation on behalf of the public. The act also created the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health (CPPIH), which would report to the secretary of state on the effectiveness of patient and public involvement and set standards for patient forums.
The act created the Council for the Regulation of Health Care Professionals to oversee the activities of different regulatory bodies of the health care professions, which included the coordination of good practice guidance. The act gave the council powers to refer a fitness to practise decision by a regulatory body to the High Court where this was in the interest of the public.