Mixed response to NHS reforms

minister Lord Hunt said last week that responses to the
government’s proposals to radically reform the NHS had been “quite
positive”, but admitted there were still concerns about the pace of
change and the ability of primary care trusts to take on hugely
increased responsibilities.

Shifting the Balance of Power, put out for consultation in
the summer, is intended to place front-line staff in charge of
front-line services and give them the power to respond to their
local communities’ needs, with clear national standards.

document proposes making PCTs “the lead NHS organisation in
assessing need, planning and securing all health services and
improving health”. Hunt said that, by 2004, PCTs would be
responsible for £44 billion – or three-quarters of the NHS
annual budget.

are going to have a really crucial role not just in terms of money,
but in terms of integrating health and social care,” Hunt said.
“Working with social services is going to be very, very important
in achieving improvements in service.”

But John
Ransford, head of social affairs, health and housing at the Local
Government Association, warned that pre-occupation with structures
could be a barrier to the development of partnerships.

Department of Health is recreating PCTs to do something they were
never envisaged to do,” Ransford said. “Most parts of the country
haven’t even got PCTs yet.”

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