Support given for separate health trust

A GLIMMER of hope has been offered to the NHS in north Suffolk after the county council acknowledged the strength of feeling for an independent health trust.

By David Lennard

A GLIMMER of hope has been offered to the NHS in north Suffolk after the county council acknowledged the strength of feeling for an independent health trust.

In the shake up of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in Suffolk, Waveney has wanted to merge with Great Yarmouth instead of being part of a countywide health body.

But a single Suffolk PCT has received backing, including the support of county councillors at a recent Cabinet meeting.

Now county council chief executive Mike Moore has written to the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority (SHA) explaining that there is no “clear view” on the ideal PCT reconfiguration.

The move has been heralded as a partial U turn and has renewed hopes that Waveney could be spared from a single PCT.

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Following Monday's county council meeting, Mr Moore makes it clear that some members support a single county-wide PCT while others are in favour of the separate Waveney and Great Yarmouth option.

Mr Moore said: “The council recognises the success of Waveney PCT as a strong local health brand and this explains the level of support for a new Waveney and Great Yarmouth PCT from councillors in the north and east of the county.

“The relative financial strength of Waveney PCT compared to the other PCTs in Suffolk, and the clinical reputation of the PCT itself is well recognised by councillors and the majority of Waveney residents as being worthy of special consideration.”

Mark Bee, a county councillor representing the Beccles area, said: “This letter puts the case for both options and is a marked change from the earlier recommendation of a single PCT for Suffolk.

“There has been a strong and united campaign in support of Waveney merging with Great Yarmouth and this view has now been expressed to the Strategic Health Authority.”

Mr Bee, who is also leader of Waveney District Council, said it was important all the necessary information about both options was placed before the SHA and Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt.

Wendy Mawer, a county councillor representing the Halesworth area, said it was important to recognise that cross-county co-operation between Waveney and the Great Yarmouth areas already exists.

“Both areas have suffered from deprivation in the past and are already working together in the best interests of local residents and businesses,” she said.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard has also sent a petition signed by nearly 7,000 people and 150 individual letters supporting the Waveney and Great Yarmouth option to the SHA.

Mr Blizzard said he had been delighted with the support shown for the “people's PCT” as the period for consultation ended yesterday.

“I am delighted by the support from local people, health professionals and health organisations who are clearly saying that they want a Great Yarmouth and Waveney PCT,” Mr Blizzard said.

“The clear message to the Strategic Health Authority and the Secretary of State for Health, Patricia Hewitt, is that this is what the public and the medical profession want for Great Yarmouth and Waveney. I hope they listen.”

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