Prescription for changes

Health chiefs in the region are encouraging people to have their say.

Health chiefs in the region are encouraging people to have their say.

It comes days after proposals to change the structure of the North East NHS as part of a major consultation exercise got under way.

People are being asked to comment on plans to change the management and administrative structures of primary care trusts and strategic health authorities in County Durham and Tees Valley and Northumberland and Tyne & Wear.

The trusts are responsible for running many of the services, like pharmacies and GP surgeries.

Public meetings have been organised in community venues to hear the views of patients and organisations over the final plans for the future structure of the health service in the area.

David Flory, the chief executive of County Durham and Tees Valley and Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Strategic Health Authorities, says feedback is wanted from people who use health services, NHS staff and organisations that work in partnership with the NHS.

"During the next 14 weeks we will seek comments on proposals to change the management and administrative structure of the NHS in the North East," he said. "But before any changes are made, we need to hear from local people and partner organisations."

He said that changes also had to result in £14m savings in management and administration costs, which would be ploughed back into direct patient care.

Over a three-month period, between now and March 22, 2006, people are asked to comment on the proposals which include:

·  Merging the two existing strategic health authorities to form one for the North East;

·  Altering the boundaries of the region's 16 primary care trusts to form either:

-Four primary care trusts covering  North of Tyne and Northumberland; South of Tyne and Sunderland; County Durham and Darlington; and Teesside.

-Twelve primary care trusts sharing the same boundaries as the 10 local authorities and two county councils. This would mean two for the counties of Durham and North-umberland; five for the local authority areas of Tyne & Wear and five for the local authority areas in Teesside.

The main reason for the strategic health authority proposal is down to the changing role of strategic health authorities. This is influenced by the increasing number of NHS foundation trusts, which are not performance-managed by SHAs and so do not have a direct relationship.

The main reasons for the proposed changes are to:

·  Ensure primary care organisations are large enough to make the best use of their budget when buying care and treatment from hospital trusts and healthcare providers, but making sure they work closely with local GPs to meet patients' needs;

· Improve the range and quality of local healthcare so patients have more choice and better access to high-quality services.

At the same time people will be asked for their views on a proposal to change the geographical boundaries of the North East Ambulance Service NHS Trust to include Teesside following a report which sets out recommend-ations to transform services.

Details of venues, dates and times are on www.ntwha.nhs.uk or www.cdtvhs.nhs.uk or on (0191) 210 6422.

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