June 18, 2008

New-Look NHS Will Need to Stay Local

Assembly Health Minister Edwina Hart has been warned if plans go ahead to overhaul the structure of the NHS, organisations will need to retain a strong community focus.

The call has been made by a committee of Assembly members in the wake of plans to cut the number of local health boards (LHBs) from 22 to eight, five years after they were created.

Under the scheme, the bodies will lose their responsibility for handing out cash to hospital trusts, which will instead be directly funded by the Assembly or an NHS board that will oversee the system.

The Assembly's Health, Wellbeing and Local Government Committee said it believed it was vital if there were fewer LHBs they retained their close links to the community.

It said: "The committee has decided it is not appropriate at this stage to make recommendations on the merits, or otherwise, of specific proposals, but has agreed that the health minister does need to consider a range of issues carefully when deciding on her final proposals.

"The report also says that it is important to ensure that, if there is a move to fewer local health boards, that the new organisations maintain a strong community focus and are able to link effectively with the communities they serve."

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