Healthcare jobs to go as NHS merger goes ahead

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Hundreds of NHS jobs in Tower Hamlets and Hackney are set to go by the New Year as health authorities try to save money in the East End.

Up to 100 staff members from each primary care trust (PCT) could lose their jobs by January 6, following a 30-day consultation with staff that began on Monday.

In total, 590 positions across Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Newham PCTs will be scrapped by next April. The PCTs are responsible for funding health services like medical prescriptions, GP practices and hospital services.

£14million must be saved by the three trusts by the next financial year as a result of the government’s tightening of public sector finances, proposed in its White Paper, ‘Equity and Excellence – Liberating the NHS’, which was released in July.

An NHS Tower Hamlets spokesman said the job cuts would not affect health services provided to the community.

“Patients should not notice any difference to the local health services they use and the maximum amount of money will go into frontline services. The jobs that will be affected include those at director level.”

The decision comes after the announcement that NHS Tower Hamlets will merge its management teams with NHS City and Hackney and NHS Newham by April 2011.

Alwen Williams, former NHS Tower Hamlets chief executive, has been appointed chief executive of the new integrated management team.

She said: “The three PCTs have a fantastic record in reducing health inequalities and improving the health of local people. This work will continue to be at the centre of everything we do.”

Dianne Barham, Director of Tower Hamlets Involvement Network, an independent community organisation that helps improve health services, said that it was vital that the new management system would not affect the provision of care for residents.

“There’s a sense that we may lose emphasis on preventative healthcare,” she warned. “Tower Hamlets has one of the worst cancer rates in London so it’s important that with the change in management they don’t take their eye off preventing dangerous illness.”

The three trusts will be abolished by April 2013 as part of the government’s plan to hand over commissioning powers to GPs instead. Before they are phased out, PCT management costs in East London will need to be reduced by 48%.

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