Interrim health board dissolves

POWER and the purse strings of the county's health care have moved into the hands of the front line workers following the dissolution of the partnership that paved the way.

By Jessica Nicholls

POWER and the purse strings of the county's health care have moved into the hands of the front line workers following the dissolution of the partnership that paved the way.

The transition did not escape controversy, however, as concerns were voiced over the speed that the Suffolk County Council and NHS Partnership board has came to an end.

Although it had always been the intention to end the partnership, the speed of the dissolution dismayed some at what turned out to be the final meeting of the board yesterday.

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It took over the role of the Suffolk Health Authority which ceased to exist in March this year to help the transition of power from the authority to the county's five Primary Care Trusts, who will decide what is best for their own areas.

But Joanna Spicer, vice-chairman of the partnership and chairwoman of the Suffolk West PCT, said that it should not have been broken up without anything definite to take its place in the near future.

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She suggested that another meeting should take place when members could come back to the table with definite proposals for the future before the partnership was dissolved completely.

However other members said that the work was already taking place and by having to take proposals back to the partnership for discussions was taking longer than was needed.

Brian Parrott is chairman of the Central Suffolk PCT. After the meeting he said: "There are three PCTs in east Suffolk which means we have the ability to work together but most of all we have the ability to be in close contact with the community we serve.

"The partnership did some really good work under the old arrangement but it is past its useful life now."

Lilian Power is chairwoman of the Ipswich PCT. After the meeting she said that it was time to move on. "We have done a lot of work in Suffolk and have a fairly clear idea of how things will go," she added. "Rural areas are not the same as urban areas, people need different things."

Ms Power said that mobile scanners are in operation in Germany that would cut down on waiting lists and this was one thing that rural areas could benefit from over here.

"One of the hold ups in hospitals is diagnostics. People are lying in beds waiting for test results to come back when they don't need to be in hospital at all for that.

"In Germany they have mobile scanners which the GP can book to come to the surgery. That's the thing we could be looking into for rural communities."

The PCTs will be working primarily within their own areas but will still be held accountable by the newly set up Scrutiny Committee which will be able to monitor the work they do and also by the Strategic Health Authority.

There are three PCTs in East Suffolk consisting of Central area, Ipswich and Suffolk Coastal.

Bryony Rudkin, chair of the partnership board and a Suffolk County Councillor, said the partnership had always been transitional.

She said: "The Partnership board achieved a great deal, for example looking at the way that money should be spent. But now it is time to move on."

Suffolk County Council will still be involved with the PCTs through boards such as those dealing with social care, children, learning disabilities and older people.


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