Healthy living aim of new group

IMPROVING the health of the people of Ipswich is a tough but achievable challenge according to the new group charged with taking NHS services into the future.

IMPROVING the health of the people of Ipswich is a tough but achievable challenge according to the new group charged with taking NHS services into the future.

Five Primary Care Groups (PCTs) took over from Suffolk Health Authority on April 1 and, by 2004, will be responsible for spending 75% of the NHS budget.

At the inaugural board meeting of Ipswich PCT, chief executive Lesley Watts outlined their plans to become a three-star trust, which will enable them to have a greater impact on local health issues.

"This is the biggest shift to primary care and to the community in terms of delivering NHS services," she said.


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"I am aiming to become a three-star trust and that is not just to keep the Government happy. We will not have any confidence from the public or our professionals unless we deliver."

One of the local issues the PCT want to look at is the gulf between the health of people living in different wards of Ipswich.

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Ms Watts told the meeting: "Health inequality is a very important local priority. This is a long-term goal but unless we can address the issue then the NHS will always be chasing its tail."

She added that the main obstacles facing the PCT will be controlling the budget shortfalls they have inherited since the abolition of Suffolk Health and recruiting new staff.

"We have money for new targets this year and Gordon Brown's budget kicks in next year but we also have inherited deficits," Ms Watts said.

"We do not start, as we would like, at a balanced position we need to put together a recovery plan to take on some of the debt and some cost control mechanisms so we do not make the problems worse.

"The biggest problem will be around the work force. It will be difficult to get enough doctors, nurses and social workers and to make sure that they get the right training, education and time to feel valued and work with us to deliver the new agenda."

Lilian Power, chairman of the PCT, said she was hopeful for the future but recognised the size of the task facing the PCT.

"There is great hope but it is also a time of huge responsibility. There are 143,000 people in Ipswich who rely on the health service so we cannot afford to fail.

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