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PCT exposed after GPs call in minister

A primary care trust has been condemned for having 'serious flaws' after GPs blew the whistle to the Government about managers' behaviour.

A report into Waveney PCT by Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridshire Strategic Health Authority, released last week, found there was a 'shortfall in the level of clinical leadership' at the trust and called for

an inquiry into allegations of intimidation.

The review, the first example of one of the new strategic health authority flexing its muscles, has brought about the resignation of the trust's chair Jane Hore and chief

executive Jana Burton.

The investigation came after GPs complained to health minister Lord Hunt.

The strategic health authority found there was little evidence of 'meaningful engagement and leadership' of GPs. Development of clinical protocols and clinical governance was also found to be 'below an acceptable standard'.

It called for more involvement from GPs and health professionals in the management of the trust, a review of leadership and an inquiry into the behaviour of some managers, including integrated services manager Linda Smith who has been accused of intimidation.

Dr Annette Abbott, chair of the Waveney Alliance, a sub-group of Suffolk LMC set up to tackle the trust, said the recommendations needed to be implemented urgently. 'There have been a lot of examples of harassment of staff and an ethos of fear or recrimination,' she said.

Dr Mark Nettleton, a GP in Lowestoft, Suffolk, said the trust had failed to consult with GPs and its staff were unapproachable and inaccessible. On one occasion the trust tried to ban community nurses from carrying controlled drugs, without consulting GPs.

'We had to raise a lot of loud voices to get them to think about the impact on provision of service. They backtracked but it was done without consultation, and it keeps happening,' Dr Nettleton said.

Dr Gareth Richards, president of the BMA's Suffolk division and former Suffolk LMC chair, said GPs were feeling 'browbeaten' by the trust.

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