Patients' Voice Criticises Health Management

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Byline: By MADELEINE BRINDLEY Western Mail

Wales will never have a world- class health service unless NHS management undergoes radical change, the patients' watchdog has claimed. The Board of Community Health Councils in Wales is calling for change to ensure that vital NHS funding reaches frontline services to meet patient needs. And the body, which represents the patient, has also raised concerns that plans for the future of the NHS are being mistaken by the public for cost-saving measures . The concerns come just days after a leading consultant criticised the Welsh Assembly Government for creating 'one of the most bloated health bureaucracies in Europe' when it replaced the old health authorities with 22 local health boards. Now the CHCs fear there are too many commissioning bodies in the NHS and that they are not co-operating with each other. The Welsh Assembly Government wants to create a world-class health service in the next 10 years. Its strategy Designed for Life envisages an NHS where patients are treated closer to home and specialist services are centralised in fewer, larger hospitals. But the CHC's response to Designed for Life said, 'We were very concerned that the present structure of the NHS is such that there are too many commissioning bodies and they are evidently not co-operating to the extent that we can see real progress in joint working and partnership.

'Another key issue in all of this is the failure of existing systems to get to grips with the parochial nature of professional groups within the NHS.

'We do not think that existing arrangements will achieve the changes that Designed for Life is looking for, and which would make a real difference for patients and the public.

'What is needed is less bureaucratic interaction and arrangements that lead to the free flow of funds to follow patient needs.'

The CHCs have also raised concerns that the public may misinterpret the aims of the plans which will outline how the NHS in each part of Wales moves towards the 10-year vision.

At a time when NHS trusts are announcing widespread cutbacks in services because of a lack of funding, the CHCs believe the public may object to the changes because they are regarded as another way to save money. …