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Monday, 31 October 2005 10:26
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Nurses will use legal action to fight health contracts
Nurses leaders are set to use legal action against the health secretary Patricia Hewitt in a bid to make her abandon plans to “privatise” local health services.

The government’s moves to contract out district nursing, chiropody, family planning and other non-hospital community health services will be the subject of a judicial review application by the Royal College of Nursing.

The RCN fears that some 250,000 jobs could be jeopardised if the changes are pushed through, reducing the role of the NHS to little more than an organiser of services provides by others.

The college said it would serve papers on Ms Hewitt today for her “failure to carry out a public consultation”.

NHS chief executive Sir Nigel Crisp published the plans in July to merge the Primary Care Trusts – which receive about 75 per cent of the total NHS budget and buy services from hospitals and GPs as well as directly employing staff – and relieve them of the direct provider role.

The plans were widely criticised and Ms Hewitt appeared to have backed down last week when she said: "District nurses ... and other staff delivering clinical services will continue to be employed by their PCT unless and until the PCT decides otherwise."

But the RCN said she had not ruled out Sir Nigel’s plans to reduce the provider role of PCTs “to a minimum”.

Howard Catton, the college's head of policy, said: "We have been under incredible pressure from our members who are deeply concerned and anxious about the future of primary care and their personal futures as well."


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