Department of Health Skip to content

Please note that this website has a UK government access keys system.

Local involvement networks (LINks)

  • Last modified date:
    24 February 2010

Local Involvement Networks (LINks) aim to give citizens a stronger voice in how their health and social care services are delivered. Run by local individuals and groups and independently supported - the role of LINks is to find out what people want, monitor local services and to use their powers to hold them to account. A LINk exists in every area to find your nearest LINk visit

A brief explanation of LINks

Sometimes the people who use services don’t feel they have a strong enough voice to change aspects of their health or social care. The introductions of LINks is part of a wider process to help the community have a stronger local voice. A LINks role is to:

  • ask what local people what they think about local healthcare services and provide a chance to suggest ideas to help improve services
  • investigate specific issues of concern to the community
  • use its powers to hold services to account and get results
  • ask for information and get an answer in a specified amount of time
  • be able to carry out spot-checks  to see if services are working well (carried out under safeguards)
  • make reports and recommendations and receive a response
  • refer issues to the local ‘Overview and Scrutiny Committee’

Guidance and advice

Under the legislation that establishes LINks (Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007), local authorities have been given £84 million in funding to support LINk activities between 2008 - 2011.

Each authority has to contract an organisation (known as a host) to set up and then run a LINk.

It's up to each community, with the support of a host, to decide how they want their LINk to be run and what issues they want it to focus on. However to help LINks , a range of advice and guidance has been made available.

General guidance for LINks

A range of guides have been produced on different aspects of running a LINk. Examples include: setting up a governance structure and setting a work programme.

Guidance on LINks' visits

LINks are able (under the law) to enter certain publicly funded health and care services to see them at work.

To help ensure that these visits by authorised LINks’ representatives are carried out correctly, a code of conduct was been published by the NHS Centre for Involvement (which has now closed). Informed by best practice, the code aims to ensure that visits are proportionate, reasonable and do not impact on the rights of people who use services. The Department of Health has recommended both LINks and providers to use this guidance.


To find out more about LINks or to sign up to a regular newsletter, sign up to  LINks exchange.

Legislation and regulations governing LINks

The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 enabled Local Involvement Networks (LINks) to be established. The legislation sets out the role and function of LINks.

To enable LINks to carry out their role, the legislation also gives the Secretary of State a power to make regulations imposing duties on commissioners and certain providers of health and social care services to respond to LINks (to requests for information and to reports and recommendations made to them by a LINk) and to allow entry by LINks to premises under certain conditions.

There are also regulations covering issues such as the transition arrangements a local authority has to take if they have not appointed a LINk host or the Governance of a LINk.

Directions made in respect of Local Involvement Networks

The Secretary of State has powers under primary legislation to give directions that are legally binding and must be complied with by the recipient. The Secretary of State has made two sets of Directions, both in respect of Local Involvement Networks (LINks).

The first set of directions are to LINks themselves, setting out their duties when it comes to providing annual reports to the Secretary of State.

The second set are to commissioners of health and social care services (Primary Care Trusts; NHS trusts most or all of whose hospitals, establishments and facilities are situated in England; Strategic Health Authorities; and local authorities). These set out the requirements they need to include in their future contracts with independent providers. These amendments relate to allowing LINks representatives to enter and view services, as well as providing LINks with information relating to services they might run which are publicly funded.

A briefing has been produced by the Department of Health for providers of independent services about this second set of Directions.

Access keys