Trust loses its survival battle

THE axe will fall on Huntingdonshire Primary Care Trust (PCT), which provides GP and NHS dental services in the area, on October 1. The decision comes in spite of a rearguard action by the trust s chairman, Michael Lynch, and campaigns by MPs Jonathan Dja

THE axe will fall on Huntingdonshire Primary Care Trust (PCT), which provides GP and NHS dental services in the area, on October 1.

The decision comes in spite of a rearguard action by the trust's chairman, Michael Lynch, and campaigns by MPs Jonathan Djanogly and Shailesh Vara, and The Hunts Post.

The Government wanted to increase the geographical coverage of PCTs, and Cambridgeshire County Council backed a proposal by the strategic health authority for a county-wide trust.

The Huntingdonshire trust, which has been solvent since its creation in 2001, will be merged with loss-making trusts in Cambridge city and South Cambridgeshire and East Cambs and Fenland.


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There remain widespread fears money that should be spent in Huntingdonshire will be diverted to make up for poor financial management elsewhere in the county. Already this year, £12-13million earmarked for Hunts has been diverted to prop up other trusts in East Anglia.

Ironically, Peterborough - much the same size as Huntingdonshire and also with two major hospitals - has been allowed to retain its stand-alone status.

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Mr Lynch had tried to persuade Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt that, since the Hunts trust had always been competently managed, it should be allowed to remain as a benchmark against which the new trusts were judged.

Mr Lynch said: "When we hand Huntingdonshire PCT over, there will be no debt, no deficit and it will be robust and fit for purpose.

"The new PCT will inherit in Huntingdonshire PCT a successful organisation with enthusiastic, caring and dedicated staff."

North West Cambridgeshire MP Mr Vara said it was disappointing for the trust and the community. He gave full credit to all those who had worked hard to persuade the Government that HPCT should remain independent.

Huntingdon MP Mr Djanogly accused the Health Secretary of making a political rather than a practical decision.

"Every argument I heard pointed to the retention of Huntingdon's PCT. I am, therefore, very disappointed with this news, which I cannot see as being beneficial to the residents."

The trust has been working with its about-to-be-merged partners to try to ensure patients in the Hunts area, which includes Papworth in South Cambridgeshire, do not lose out.

Cambridgeshire County Council and the strategic health authority welcomed the merger decision they had backed.

Ambulance services will be provided by a new trust covering the whole of eastern England, when the East Anglian service merges with the three county services of Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire on July 1.

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