Headlines: February 28th, 2000

Health Minister John Denham has criticised Health Authorities for failing to support Primary Care Groups. The 400 Groups were launched in April 1999 and given the task of integrating existing arrangements and developing new ways of providing primary care for their communities.While many of the Groups have been empowered by their Health Authority to deliver more accessible and convenient local health services, others have been restrained and starved of cash. A briefing paper published recently by the Audit Commission described how many Groups have been held back by limited resources and poor access to data. The scale of the disparity of treatment can be judged from the management budgets allocated to Groups which range from 1 pound 51p. per head to 7 pounds 10p. per head.

Chairmen of Authorities have been told to empower and resource PrimaryCare Groups and Trusts in their efforts to deliver modern local health services. This involves wider delegated responsibilities with the prospect of them progressing to Trust status.