Magazine article Public Finance

Hewitt Reprieves Community Hospitals

Magazine article Public Finance

Hewitt Reprieves Community Hospitals

Article excerpt

Proposals to close community hospitals might be delayed after Health secretary Patricia Hewitt told primary care trusts to adopt new methods of public consultation.

Community hospitals are popular with voters and the announcement will be seen as an attempt to gain support for the government's health care reforms.

Hewitt also met leaders from clinical professions on July 5 in an attempt to win back their support. The meeting laid the groundwork for a major health summit in the autumn, which will place clinicians at the forefront of reforms.

Hewitt said PCTs should consult with the public and not rush into the 'unnecessary closure' of existing small hospitals. Campaigners claimed 70 of the 300 existing community hospitals in England were under threat from PCTs aiming to reduce their deficits.

A guidance note issued this week insisted traditional methods of consultation, such as the open meeting, would no longer be acceptable. It highlights the approach used in the Your health, your care, your say white paper, which used citizens' juries, on-line surveys and opinion polls.

'Our guidance will give patients a louder voice when it comes to NHS community services. …

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