Health merger fears voiced

A DECISION to share Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire's top health bosses with another region could be the start of a gradual merger of health authorities across the country, it was claimed today.

A DECISION to share Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire's top health bosses with another region could be the start of a gradual merger of health authorities across the country, it was claimed today.

In the last month both the chief executive and finance director of the region's strategic health authority have left their posts.

They will be replaced by Alan Burns and Steve Clarke, the chief executive and finance director of Trent SHA in the east Midlands.

Both men will remain in their roles at Trent as well as working for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.


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Lilian Power, former chairman of Ipswich Primary Care Trust, said: "I think they will eventually merge the two SHAs or formulate some sort of reorganisation.

"The idea of reducing the number of different organisations that have responsibility for governing the NHS has been on the government's agenda for some time."

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Peter Davies, spokesman for the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire SHA, said the prime reason for sharing Mr Burns across the two roles, instead of recruiting another separate chief executive, was his strong reputation.

He said: "He is very good at turning things around and has overcome similar challenges in his previous work in other systems.

"He's also now going to have two teams available to him, which should bring more support to the system."

Mr Davies added it would be wrong to assume the appointments are a direct sign the authorities will merge.

He said: "There has been talk of reducing the number of SHAs but no definite plans have been formulated as yet.

"What the Department of Health has told us is that these changes are likely to be gradual rather than something that is directly enforced."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said the structure of the NHS is being looked at by the new government, but could not confirm there are plans to merge SHAs.

She said: "It's a possibility, but we've certainly not heard anything to suggest that's one of the reasons why this particular set-up is happening.

"They are looking at the merger of PCTs in certain areas but there's been no word about any SHAs."

What do you think about the shared-management arrangement? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Trent SHA:

Trent SHA serves the three East Midland counties of Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. It serves a combined population of 2.7 million people and a total NHS budget of £2.5 billion.

Trent is diverse and covers the rural areas of the Peak District National Park in Derbyshire and sparsely populated communities in Lincolnshire, together with the more densely populated, multi-cultural cities of Nottingham and Derby.

It contains 19 primary care trusts, two ambulance trusts, six acute hospital trusts and three mental health trusts.

Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgshire SHA:

The three counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire have a population of 2.2 million which is growing significantly, particularly in Cambridgeshire.

As well as the four urban centres of Peterborough, Norwich, Ipswich and Cambridge, there are small to medium sized towns - largely market towns - across the three counties.

The rest of the population lives in rural areas and is relatively evenly distributed, except in the sparsely populated areas of the Fens and Buckland.

It contains 16 PCTs, nine acute hospital trusts, one ambulance trust and two mental health trusts.

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