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Health mergers come under scrutiny

[Thursday 16 February 2006]

Wide ranging plans to alter the provision of health care and ambulance services across North Yorkshire will come under the spotlight at a public meeting next week.

Proposals are currently under discussion to merge North Yorkshire's local ambulance trusts into one regional ambulance service for Yorkshire and the Humber.

If the merger plans get the go-ahead, the two ambulance trusts serving the Yorkshire Dales - the West Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service (WYMAS) and the Tees, East and North Yorkshire Ambulance Service (TENYAS) - would be amalgamated in to the new regional service.

Also currently under discussion are plans to restructure the NHS in the region by merging Primary Care Trusts in York and North Yorkshire.

The PCT's are responsible for providing strategic leadership on health matters.

If adopted, this proposal would see the Craven, Harrogate and Rural District (CHARD) PCT and its northern dales neighbour, the Hambleton and Richmondshire PCT amalgamated to form a new organisation responsible for health care County wide.

"In a rural area such as North Yorkshire the guiding principle must be local…local…local", said County Councillor John Blackie, Chairman of the Health Scrutiny Committee which is looking in to the proposals.

Mr Blackie added: "Whilst I am sure we would all welcome the greater efficiency and savings in bureaucracy that large organisations might bring, we must ensure that patients do not suffer as a result of services being centralised as part of a quest to meet national performance targets.

"Access to health care services must be brought closer to the communities they serve.

"Services from GP surgeries especially in remote areas must be strengthened and above all else ambulances must be available to respond within acceptable target times to emergencies wherever they occur in North Yorkshire".

The County Council's Scrutiny of Health Committee will meet on Wednesday 22nd February with proceedings commencing at 6.30pm at County Hall, Northallerton.

Senior managers from the NHS locally will be guiding the Committee through their consultation documents on the proposed changes and answering members' questions.

Councillor John Blackie added: "I urge members of the public to attend this meeting so that the NHS can take account of the views of local people. Every opportunity will be given for members of the public to speak".

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