PCTs in bid for more time

HEALTH trusts across Suffolk must be given more time to recover their debts.That's the message a delegation of councillors from across the county were due to be taking to Westminster today.

HEALTH trusts across Suffolk must be given more time to recover their debts.

That's the message a delegation of councillors from across the county were due to be taking to Westminster today.

As the financial crisis in Suffolk's NHS shows no signs of easing the councillors were due to call on health minister Rosie Winterton to extend the deadline by which trusts have to pay back their debts.

Between them, primary care trusts in Suffolk have more than £70m of debt. The government has issued strict orders that all overspending must be stopped by the end of this financial year and all debts must be paid back by 2007.

This has led to health trusts announcing proposals to close a string of services including community hospitals and mental health day centres.

Jeremy Pembroke, leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “PCTs must be given more time to avoid a chaotic situation arising where people's health will be endangered.”

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The meeting has been arranged by Ipswich MP Chris Mole and councillors from across Suffolk will be attending.

As well as Mr Pembroke the delegation will include Julian Swainson, deputy leader of Suffolk County Council's Labour group, Nigel Bennett, district councillor for Sudbury South, Sherrie Green, a Suffolk Coastal District Council

cabinet member, and Liz Harsant, leader of Ipswich Borough Council.

Mr Swainson said: “I am taking a very clear message to the minister: Suffolk residents must not be forced to pay for the mistakes of managers that we have no control over.

“The debts must be repaid, but in a sensible, planned way, that leaves proper modern health care available to everyone in Suffolk."

Mrs Green said: "These changes are being pushed through too quickly as neither the voluntary or the private sector are ready to fill the gaps created by the PCT's ill-advised reaction to its financial crisis.

“I want the Government to intervene to extend the timescale so that the risk of substantial adverse impact on patients can be reduced."

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