HEALTH staff are hurt and surprised by the Government’s decision to axe their “bureaucratic” organisation as part of the most radical reforms in NHS history.
Dr Bryan Smith, chairman of NHS Worcestershire, says workers are hurt over the Government’s radical white paper that will abolish the organisation and others like it by April 2013.
NHS services will be taken over by new statutory bodies called GP Consortia – groups of GP practices that will manage the healthcare budget – except in areas such as dentistry, community pharmacies and ophthalmic services that will be the responsibility of a new NHS Commissioning Board.
The move renders NHS Worcestershire, the primary care trust that now holds the purse strings for county healthcare, redundant in under three years which will lead to at least 100 job losses as management costs are slashed by 45 per cent.
Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs), the regional arms of government will also be scrapped.
Dr Smith, speaking at a meeting at County Hall in Worcester, yesterday, said: “I see among the professionals a great deal of uncertainty and a great deal of hurt. I think we all expected the uncertainty.
“The hurt comes from the fact that, in the white paper – and I can’t claim to have read it that carefully, I haven’t had the time – I never see the word PCT except in a sentence coupled with the word bureaucracy. I do think that is hurtful and unfair.”
Dr Smith said that the announcement of the “demise” of primary care trusts would mean that their most marketable staff would be making plans to leave the organisation.
Paul Bates, NHS Worcestershire’s chief executive, admitted that he did not know the abolition of primary care trusts was coming, only discovering when he attended a meeting with regional health bosses, the strategic health authority, at 4.30pm on Monday, the day the white paper was published.
The move also means he will lose his job although some NHS staff may be able to forge positions in the new-look NHS.
Mr Bates said: “We have to let go. There are going to be job losses.
“You can’t abolish primary care trusts and then presume you’re not going to have job losses.”
One member of the board, Dr Jonathan Leach, the trust’s medical director, questioned whether GPs would want to run the NHS.
He said: “Quite a few of them are saying to me ‘Thanks very much but I want to see my patients’.”
But Mr Bates said GPs would be leaders rather than managers of the NHS budget.
He said: “We do not want GPs walking around, laden down by big briefcases full of work.
“We want them to spend their time with their patients.”