Council backs single PCT plan

COUNCIL bosses have backed plans to create a single primary care trust (PCT) for the whole of Suffolk, following a discussion on proposals to shake-up the region's health services.

COUNCIL bosses have backed plans to create a single primary care trust (PCT) for the whole of Suffolk, following a discussion on proposals to shake-up the region's health services.

There are currently five PCTS in the county, at Suffolk West, Ipswich, Suffolk Coastal, Suffolk Central and Waveney, but health chiefs are looking at ways in which they can be restructured.

And yesterday, at a meeting of Suffolk County Council's cabinet, it was agreed the preferred option would be for just one PCT to cover the whole of Suffolk - subject to a meeting of the full council on January 19.

The other option is for two PCTs to be formed - one to cover most of Suffolk and the other to include Waveney and Great Yarmouth.


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Council leader Jeremy Pembroke said: “My own belief is that it would be more sensible for a single PCT for the entire county rather than have two PCTs, one of which is in a bit of Suffolk and the other in a bit of Norfolk. I don't think that's particularly satisfactory.”

Plans to replace the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority (SHA) with a body for the whole of the eastern region - which would include Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Essex - were also given the thumbs up.

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Mr Pembroke said: “The reasoning behind the move is that there could be significant savings - as much as £7million - which could in theory be invested in front line services.

“It has clear advantages for us as an authority because we would be working with a body with the same boundaries as the eastern region and I believe it is a sensible option to consider.”

Joanna Spicer, portfolio holder for public protection, warned however that it was important to ensure that a region-wide authority remained accountable to the people of Suffolk and did not become another anonymous government office.

Meanwhile proposals to merge the East Anglian, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire and Essex ambulance trusts were unanimously turned down.

Mr Pembroke said: “Our own trust works extremely well which I think is a reason to leave it as it is. I don't believe that widening it out is appropriate at all and I don't think its capacity will improve by making it bigger.”

Guy McGregor, portfolio holder for roads and transport, added: “I can't see much advantage in having an authority to cover whole region. If it ain't broke don't fix it - that's the message we have to get across to the powers that be.”

There were also questions raised over how much any merger would cost, whether it would result in just one control room for the whole region and how long the process was likely to take.

The issues are due to be discussed at a meeting of the full council on January 19.

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