Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, joined Anne Main, MP for St Albans, at a briefing by St Albans and Harpenden Primary Care Trust (PCT) on the government?s latest plans for re-organising the NHS.

    Peter Lilley said: “This seems to be yet another round in the endless process of re-organisation and centralisation in the NHS. This constant bureaucratic turmoil absorbs an enormous amount of energy and resources that would be better spent on the detailed improvement of clinical services.

    “My main concern is that the new proposals could take decision-making further away from the local level. Nationwide, PCTs are being merged into bigger units and in Hertfordshire we will move from eight PCTs to a single organisation covering the whole of the County. What is particularly ludicrous is that PCTs were originally set up to provide a local level of administration when the four health authorities in Hertfordshire were merged into two and then one for the whole of Hertfordshire which was then merged with Bedfordshire to create the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Strategic Health Authority. Now that in turn will be merged into one giant authority covering the whole eastern area.

    “At the same time, having abolished GP fundholding, the government is now bringing back something similar called Practice-based Commissioning. But it is still unclear whether individual practices will be given the freedom to commission care for their patients or whether this will be organised on a wider basis which will involve re-establishing another level of bureaucracy.

    “The reforms are also intended to remove PCTs from running health provision. This could have direct implications for Harpenden Memorial Hospital which is at present controlled by our local PCT. It is essential that these bureaucratic changes should not be allowed to disrupt or undermine the provision of services at Harpenden Memorial Hospital. I was pleased that the local PCT reassured me that those services are still seen as integral to the development of healthcare in this area.

    “I shall strongly endorse this commitment at the public meeting to discuss local people?s concerns about the future of Harpenden Memorial Hospital which is to be held in Harpenden Public Hall at 7.00pm this Thursday, the 8th September.?

    Anne Main said after the meeting, ?I share Peter?s concerns about whether the amalgamated PCTs will still have the ability to respond effectively to the health care of local residents.

    ?The main thrust and purpose of this joining is supposed be an attempt to slim down the bureaucracy of the NHS. That would be desirable, but so far all these changes have only made the NHS more bureaucratic. What is most important is that it should not adversely affect the provision of health care in the area.?

    ?I also echo Peter?s commitment to local services.?