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Saturday 26th May 2018

PCT reforms announced

17th May 2006

17052006_oldmap1.jpgHealth Secretary Patricia Hewitt has announced that in the reorganisation of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in England the number of PCTs will be reduced from 303 to 152. The new Primary Care Trusts will be established from 1 October 2006.

The announcement is the final part of the Commissioning a Patient-Led NHS consultation, which ended on 22nd March.  Local public consultations were held by the 28 existing Strategic Health Authorities and the decisions are based on the results of those consultations. 

The new PCTs will be more closely aligned with Local Authority boundaries and the Department of Health say that patients will benefit from more joined-up working with the NHS and social services covering the same areas; more than 70% of PCTs will mirror Local Authority boundaries. 

Patricia Hewitt said: "The new PCTs will be better organised to commission services that best suit the needs of their local population." She added that "In the longer term the new PCTs will deliver better value for money, through greater purchasing power and lower administrative costs." She expects that in the next two years there will be annual savings of £250m to plough back into front line services.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said that at this stage it is not possible to calculate the number of job losses or associated costs of redundancies.

The Conservative health spokesman, Stephen O'Brien, said the decision was "change for change's sake" and warned ministers about the effect on staff morale, accusing the Government of having an 'addiction to constant structural change'. Steve Webb, Liberal Democrat health spokesman,  said rural communities were concerned they could be marginalised as larger bodies may be tempted to focus on urban areas.

The chief executive of the King's Fund, Niall Dickson, said he was not convinced that a complete reorganisation of the health service at such a crucial time was the right thing to do. He added, however, that the 'move to match PCT and local authority boundaries is welcome'.

The chief executive of the NHS Confederation, Gill Morgan, said staff would be working proactively with the process. She added that is was important to ensure that patient care is at the heart of the whole process and that staff are treated fairly through this difficult time.

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