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NHS Alliance chair hits out at community services shift

By Alisdair Stirling, Lilian Anekwe

The Department of Health's Transforming Community Services agenda has nothing to do with what´s best for patients and could 'put the NHS back 30 years', the NHS Alliance says.

NHS Alliance chair Dr Michael Dixon told the Annual Conference of Community Hospitals that PCTs were being 'bulldozed' into devolving their community services far too quickly, forcing them into vertical integration with acute trusts.

'Local communities - local clinicians, managers and local people - have no time to come up with realistic plans of their own. Transforming Community Services is in danger of becoming 'dismantling local services', he told the conference in Preston.

'Current plans are all about organisational parsimony and staff pensions and most have nothing to do with what might be best for patients. We are in danger of creating even larger hospital monopolies, reducing productivity and fragmenting those community services away from general practice and social services where they really belong.'

Under Department of Health guidance, PCTs had until March 31 to draw up their plans for devolving community services. An exclusive Pulse survey of PCTs revealed most proposed to do this by vertical integration with acute trusts.

Dr Michael Dixon