Health care shake-up unveiled

MARK NICHOLLS Health secretary Patricia Hewitt will today announce a dramatic u-turn in plans to shake-up the structure of the health system in Norfolk and Suffolk by creating a coastal primary care trust that takes in Yarmouth and Waveney.

MARK NICHOLLS

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a merger between Waveney and Yarmouth.

Campaigners for the merger were furious that the coastal option had not been put forward by the SHA, despite it gaining strong support with hundreds of people attending consultation meetings.


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Their view has been that the new joint PCT would be able to focus on creating services that are relevant to people living in the area and build on the relationship established with the James Paget Hospital, Gorleston.

Elsewhere in Norfolk, there was disappointment that a third option had not been considered.

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Norwich PCT, backed by Norwich City Council, favoured a three-PCT option for Norfolk made up of North Norfolk, Breckland and West Norfolk; Waveney and Yarmouth; and South Norfolk, Broadland and Norwich.

While North Norfolk PCT favoured the single-PCT option for Norfolk, its chairman Bruce Barrell personally supported the three-PCT option.

Yesterday, he said he was not aware of what the health secretary would announce today but added that the Yarmouth-Waveney option and the rest of Norfolk forming one other PCT would be a surprise move. He said: "I would be surprised if that were to occur without them giving serious thought about the three-option PCT for Norfolk because to agree to part of it does not seem to me to make much sense."

The SHA declined to comment on the Waveney-Yarmouth situation but in a statement said: "[The SHA] put forward recommendations to the Department of Health following a decision made by their board on April 5. All options . . . have been reviewed and a decision made by ministers."

The restructuring also sees plans for the SHA to merge with Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire to double the size of the authority and for the East Anglian Ambulance Trust also to be merged with the same three counties.

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