Health authorities to back services reforms

A MASSIVE shake-up to the local health service is concerning patient groups who worry local issues will be ignored. The changes, still to be agreed by an independent advisory panel at the Department of Health, would mean a reduction in primary care trust

A MASSIVE shake-up to the local health service is concerning patient groups who worry local issues will be ignored.

The changes, still to be agreed by an independent advisory panel at the Department of Health, would mean a reduction in primary care trusts, ambulance trusts and health authorities.

Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Strategic Health Authority (SHA) is backing Government recommendations to go ahead with mergers - hoping it will free up resources for frontline services.

The plans, if approved, will see the creation of just one SHA covering the East of England rather than the three currently in existence.


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It will also mean having a single NHS ambulance service trust rather than three.

The Beds and Herts SHA has recommended that there should be one primary care trust for each county - currently there are eight in Herts and three in Beds.

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Derek Marcus, chairman of a patient group in Hertfordshire, said he is worried that a single PCT for each county will not be able to cope with "the level of empathy and understanding that patients have come to expect".

He added: "The strength of successful strategic partnerships between local authorities and local health service providers may also be weakened."

But SHA chairman Ian White said: "The SHA feels that a single primary care trust in each county would mean more management resources could be invested in developing links with local communities, identifying where there are particular health problems and working with voluntary organisations and local government partners to address these."

A spokesman for North Herts and Stevenage PCT said: "Since PCTs were formed in 2001 they have been extremely successful organisations, meeting an increasing number of central targets, improving clinical services and building meaningful partnerships.

"It is important that any new organisation is able to build upon this good work and continue to improve the quality of services we provide and purchase for our local population.

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