Headlines: April 26th, 2001

Health Minister Alan Milburn has published plans to trim the top tiers of health service administration and devolve more power to primary care trusts. This move follows the trend in other parts of the public sector where power is moving away from Whitehall and passing down to the sharp end. Primary care trusts will join with local strategic partnerships and neighbourhood managers to form a local power base which responds to the needs of people in the area.The lever of power will move downwards by giving primary care trusts 75 percent of the NHS budget. They will decide on how the budget will be spent between GP surgeries, local hospitals and other local services.

The changes will result in a slimmer Department of Health with the primary role of monitoring policy delivery, progress chasing and bottleneck trouble shooting. The NHS Executive, which lost its Chief Executive last year, will be abolished. The 10 regional offices will also be abolished with a saving of 500 staff, but Regional Directors with small support staffs, will remain to oversee local performance. The 99 health authorities will be merged into 30 new style authorities. They will have a strategic role and be the link between the trusts and the Department of Health. They will lose their budget allocation responsibility. The best performing NHS organization s will be invited to run the new style strategic authorities.

This administrative slim down has been marginally counterbalanced by the launch of the Modernization Agency which is to lead the NHS Plan implementation.