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Darzi pledges NHS changes will be 'locally-led'

By Steve Nowottny

Forthcoming changes to healthcare provision will only go ahead if backed by clinical evidence and local support, health minister Lord Darzi promised today.

Lord Darzi's ‘Leading Local Change' report, unveiled today ahead of his final NHS next stage review report due next month, lists five pledges aimed at reassuring patients and staff about the programme of reform.

The pledges guarantee that changes will always be to the benefit of patients, clinically driven and locally led, that patients and staff will be fully consulted on changes and that existing services will not be withdrawn before new ones are established.

Lord Darzi said: ‘Our nationwide listening events have shown me that patients, the public and NHS staff are not opposed to change in principle – but want to ensure it is done to save lives and improve quality, and is not driven by cost or politics.'

BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum welcomed the report, which he said was ‘impossible to disagree with', but warned that ‘public and healthcare staff alike have yet to see much evidence of these principles being delivered up to now.'

‘As part of the initial Darzi review, it appears that every Primary Care Trust will have to meet a centrally imposed requirement to have a new ‘supersurgery',' he said. ‘This is despite a lack of sound evidence to show that they all need one, or that proper local consultation is always taking place.'

The NHS Confederation also welcomed the plans, but expressed fears that allowing existing services to remain open until news services are established could lead to ‘double-running costs'.

Policy director Nigel Edwards said: ‘Although the clinical case must be clear, the NHS needs to take into account value-for-money to ensure that the needs of the whole population are best met, which requires trade-offs.'

On Monday NHS East of England will become the first SHA to unveil its vision for the future of the health service, as the Darzi review comes to its conclusion.

Lord Darzi: has pledged all NHS changes will be locally led Lord Darzi:

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