Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Fears over Health; HEALTH SHAKE-UP: Fears over Care as Trusts in Line for Axe

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Fears over Health; HEALTH SHAKE-UP: Fears over Care as Trusts in Line for Axe

Article excerpt

Byline: SARAH JUDD

FEARS have been raised over healthcare on Teesside and the wider North-east, after health secretary Andrew Lansley announced a major shake-up of services which will see local Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) abolished.

Teesside Labour MPs Tom Blenkinsop and Alex Cunningham have warned thousands of patients could end up in pain, waiting longer for operations, as GPs are handed much of the multi-million pound budget From Page One for healthcare services. These budgets are currently handled by local PCTs including NHS Middlesbrough, NHS Stockton, NHS Redcar & Cleveland and NHS Hartlepool, collectively known as NHS Tees.

The abolition of PCTs leaves 516 people across Teesside facing the jobs axe. A further 260 employed by NHS North East, the North East Strategic Health Authority (SHA), are also facing redundancy in line with thousands of others across the country, as SHAs are also abolished. Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said the "Con-Dem" health model looks to be "the costly creation of what may turn out to be a largely privatised NHS."

He said: "The health secretary has announced the largest part of the NHS budget, almost 80% of the total pounds 105bn, will be taken away from local PCTs and handed to groups of local GPs who could commission direct services. "This may seem technical, but it represents one of the biggest shake ups to hit the NHS since it was formed. "It will be expensive to set up with some estimating that it could cost pounds 80m just to launch it - valuable cash that could have gone on patient care."

He added the change "raises more questions than answers". Mr Blenkinsop also raised concerns over PCT-run social care services like district nursing and the management of facilities such as NHS dentists and nurse-led clinics. …

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