Cautious welcome for health funding rises
A cautious welcome has been given to increases in funding for healthcare in Norfolk and Suffolk, but NHS trusts are still warning of difficult times ahead.
Today each primary care trust learnt how much money it would be getting in 2011/12, while health secretary Andrew Lansley also set out the 'next steps' in his massive overhaul of the health service, despite concerns the reforms are too speedy and could damage patient care.
For NHS Norfolk, its �54m increase in funding for 2011/12 to nearly �1.2bn is a growth in its allocation of 4.7pc.
NHS Suffolk is to get �27m more, a rise of 3pc to more than �900m, while NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney will see its budget rise by �11.4m, an increase of 2.9pc to just over �401m.
David Stonehouse, deputy chief executive of NHS Norfolk, said: 'It appears from the table of allocations that NHS Norfolk has received one of the larger uplifts in the country.
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'As everyone is aware, Norfolk has a large and growing older population who inevitably require greater support from the NHS. We welcome that this pressure has been recognised in the funding.
'However it remains encumbent on us to maximise delivery of cost savings to maximise services for patients.'
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The Department of Health's response to its public consultation on proposed changes to the NHS was also published today. The Government insists it has listened to concerns about the scale and speed of its radical shake-up of the NHS.
Unions, thinktanks and health campaigners have expressed doubts about the reforms, which will see primary care trusts (PCTs) and strategic health authorities (SHAs) abolished.
GPs will take hold of the purse strings from 2013, planning hospital care and services for patients.
NHS Norfolk is continuing to work with GPs to help them establish 'commissioning consortia'. These will be clusters of practices in a number of localities in Norfolk who will have the responsibility of planning and buying services for their patients.
Ian Ayres, NHS Norfolk's director of innovation and strategy, said: 'In Norfolk we have more than 550 GPs and more than 90 GP Practices.
'We are working together to discuss how commissioning clusters can best be established and responsibilities duly transferred. We would anticipate seeing consortia form in 2011 but it is very much a matter for the GPs of Norfolk to decide how they will go forward.'
For more on what the announcements mean for health services in our area, see Thursday's EDP.