PATIENTS will get better healthcare thanks to a £102million shake-up of NHS services, health chiefs and unions claimed today.
More than 42 community health services in Sunderland, South Tyneside and Gateshead have been transferred to the South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust.
They range from district nursing and health visiting, to specialist areas such as palliative care.
The trust has taken on an extra £102million budget and 2,900 staff.
Chief executive Lorraine Lambert said: “Bringing together community and hospital-based services in this way presents us with a really exciting opportunity to improve patient care, by offering a more integrated approach.
“Although these new management arrangements represent a major organisational change, patients can be reassured that they will still be seen by their usual community health service staff contacts.”
The transfer is part of the Government’s Transforming Community Services (TCS) programme, aimed at changing the way primary health care is delivered to promote high quality standards of care.
Under TCS, Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in England cease to be a direct provider of services such as community nursing and health visiting, while keeping responsibility for planning and commissioning health care provision.
Community health services were previously provided by NHS South of Tyne and Wear, which covers Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland Teaching PCTs.
Karen Straughair, chief executive of NHS South of Tyne and Wear, said: “South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust was our preferred choice of provider and it has our very best wishes as it takes on this additional responsibility.”
Mrs Lambert added: “We are already working closely with all of our partners – including GPs – to develop new, integrated ways of working which best meet the needs of patients by ensuring seamless care of the highest quality.”
The move has been welcomed by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). Glenn Turp, RCN’s Sunderland-based regional director said: “We welcome the integration of community and acute hospital services, because this keeps healthcare within the NHS family.
“South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust is now perfectly placed to deliver seamless community care.
“We look forward to seeing how the trust will deliver this for patients in Gateshead and Sunderland too.”