Health secretary steers clear of PCT row

HEALTH secretary Patricia Hewitt today refused to scrutinise a Suffolk health trust's decision to move to a new riverside headquarters.

HEALTH secretary Patricia Hewitt today refused to scrutinise a Suffolk health trust's decision to move to a new riverside headquarters.

South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo was so outraged by the county's debt-ridden primary care trust's decision to move to newly-built offices in Bramford that he asked Ms Hewitt to order a review.

Now, almost a month after he sent his letter Mr Yeo has been told there is nothing Ms Hewitt can do.

In a letter to Mr Yeo, health minister Andy Burnham said: “I should explain that although the Department of Health provides strategic leadership to the NHS and social care organisations in England it is for local NHS organisations to plan, develop and improve services for local people.

“These bodies are best placed to respond to patients' concerns and needs.”

The rest of the letter provides the address of the Primary Care Trust (PCT) and asks Mr Yeo to raise his concerns with them.

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Mr Yeo said: “It's very disappointing. They are passing the buck and saying 'We don't want to get involved, we are going to leave it to the local trust'.

“I think it's pretty shabby really.”

Mr Yeo said he had referred the matter to Ms Hewitt because he felt the way the PCT had handled the move to the new headquarters, and the lack of public consultation, needed to be scrutinised.

He said: “This is public money at stake, it's a trust which is making a lot of people redundant and cutting services in the community.

“I had expected the secretary of state to take a bit more interest than that.

“I'm not quite sure what else we can do. It's clear they are not going to take much interest in the subject I'm afraid.”

The new headquarters in Paper Mill Lane, Bramford, will replace current offices in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Felixstowe.

It will cost the PCT more than £300,000 a year in rent - £42,000 more than they currently pay.

However the PCT claims that the reduction in administration costs brought about by being on one site will result in an overall saving of £96,000 a year.

Do you think Patricia Hewitt should have intervened? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

WEBLINK: www.suffolkpct.nhs.uk

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