PCT wins breakaway fight

A HARD-fought battle for Waveney Primary Care Trust to break away from a new Suffolk-wide body and instead merge with its Great Yarmouth counterpart has been won, it emerged yesterday.

By David Lennard

A HARD-fought battle for Waveney Primary Care Trust to break away from a new Suffolk-wide body and instead merge with its Great Yarmouth counterpart has been won, it emerged yesterday.

Patricia Hewitt announced in Parliament yesterday a substantial reduction in the number of PCTs across the country but decided to go against the recommendation of the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority which called for a single PCT for both Suffolk and Norfolk.

Instead the Health Secretary backed three PCTs across both counties with Suffolk, Norfolk and the Great Yarmouth and Waveney area.


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Hundreds of people in north Suffolk, along with every GP in the area, local authorities and MPs, had campaigned for the separate PCT but their hopes were dashed earlier this year following the strategic health authority recommendations.

But yesterday, in a hastily arranged press conference Jane Leighton, chairman of Waveney PCT and counterpart Bernard Williamson of Great Yarmouth PCT said they were both delighted with the announcement, if a little surprised.

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“I am delighted for the people of Waveney. The decision reflects the united support for a very strong case,” said Ms Leighton.

“The whole community, GPs, MPs, local authority colleagues and PCT staff have worked tirelessly for this outcome.”

Mr Williamson said: “I am really proud of what everyone has achieved. We now need to put this period of uncertainty behind us and focus on the task in hand which is setting up the new PCT.”

There were also messages of congratulation from Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer and Waveney MP Bob Blizzard who had both lobbied the Health Secretary in support of a separate Waveney and Great Yarmouth PCT as well as speaking at public meetings.

In a message to Waveney PCT staff, Mr Gummer said: “Well done. You made it possible. The huge improvements you have achieved and your enthusiasm and professionalism gave us the necessary ammunition. Without you it would have been impossible. Thank you.”

Bob Blizzard admitted that the past nine months had been a very tense time for everyone with an interest in the NHS and locally provided services.

“We always knew what the right outcome should be and we were right to stand up and fight for it,” he said.

Suffolk County Council leader Jeremy Pembroke said the authority would work closely with both Suffolk PCT and the Great Yarmouth and Waveney PCT.

“When the council debated the future of health in Suffolk I gave a commitment to make any new structure work - I stand by that commitment,” he said.

In Suffolk the number of PCTs has fallen from five to two and in Norfolk from six to two.

A transitional board made up of members of both Waveney and Great Yarmouth PCTs will be formed who will work towards the new Great Yarmouth and Waveney Teaching PCT being formed from October 1, 2006, as with the rest of the new trusts.

“This is only the beginning. The hard work starts now to make sure that the new PCT works and delivers the services required by people living in the Waveney and Great Yarmouth areas,” said Ms Leighton.

The number of PCTs in the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire NHS Strategic Health Authority area has been reduced from 17 to five: Norfolk PCT, Suffolk PCT, Cambridgeshire PCT, Peterborough PCT and the Great Yarmouth and Waveney Teaching PCT.

Keith Pearson, chair of the new East of England SHA, said: “I am pleased to see the formation of three county PCTs in line with the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire SHA's recommendation and the establishment of two additional PCTs, one for the unitary authority of Peterborough and one for Great Yarmouth and Waveney.”

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