Independent board to replace SHAs

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has continued to roll back Labour reforms, pledging that an independent NHS board will replace SHAs by 2012.

Dr Drage: ‘overly heavy-handed’ PCTs are a bigger problem than SHAs (Photograph: Londonwide LMCs)
Dr Drage: ‘overly heavy-handed’ PCTs are a bigger problem than SHAs (Photograph: Londonwide LMCs)

Regional offices of a new independent NHS board will take over the role of SHAs 'in a much more streamlined way,' said Mr Lansley, leaving thousands of managerial jobs in doubt.

Mr Lansley's immediate shake-up has already led to the resignation of high-profile health service personnel.

NHS London chairman Sir Richard Sykes resigned soon after the health secretary pledged to halt all of Labour's existing reforms, starting with those in the capital.

In a letter to Mr Lansley, Sir Richard said 'our visions of healthcare delivery bear so little in common it would make no sense for me to continue in this role.'

NHS London non-executive director Gerry Acher has also resigned.

Meanwhile, two senior CQC directors quit shortly after the health secretary pledged to 'strenghten' the regulator.

Mr Lansley announced that all planned and future service changes must have the support of local GPs, and be based on sound clinical evidence.

Dr Michelle Drage, joint chief executive of Londonwide LMCs, said Mr Lansley's first steps were 'good news' for the capital and its GPs. 'The one thing Healthcare for London missed was the primacy of general practice. It now has an opportunity to put general practice on the map,' she said.

Despite being a vocal critic of NHS London, Dr Drage said 'overly heavy-handed' PCTs were a bigger problem in the capital than the SHA.

'I don't mind what organisational structure we come up with as long as GPs have their autonomy and are allowed to get on with their job.'

Dr David Jenner, contract lead at the NHS Alliance, said stripping down the functions of SHAs would remove 'a small element of managerial costs'.

Many SHA and PCT staff may be end up being employed by GP consortia when they take on full commissioning responsibility, said Dr Jenner.

The resignations prompted by the new health secretary's first actions were because he appears to be genuinely pursuing 'radical change', said Dr Jenner.

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