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Last Updated: Friday, 2 March 2007, 20:50 GMT
Health centre plans scrutinised
A scrutiny group has announced it is broadly in favour of plans to introduce new types of health centres in Cumbria, although there are some reservations.

The local primary care trust wants to set up centres paid for by the NHS but run by the independent sector.

The council's health and well-being scrutiny committee has been examining the proposals.

It wants reassurances acute hospitals will still be able to deliver a full range of emergency services.

The Clinical, Assessment, Treatment and Support Service (Cats) centres would investigate patients and refer them for surgery or treatment.

Health officials believe they would reduce treatment waiting times and have put the plans out for public consultation, which included public meetings.

'Services eroded'

The scrutiny committee wants the service to augment, rather than duplicate, existing NHS capacity in the county.

Its recommendations include proposals that the centres are located in close association with existing hospital sites, both acute and community, and the patients should be able to decide whether he or she is referred.

Councillor Bert Richardson, the committee's chairman, said: "We can see why CATS centres have been proposed, but we can also understand the public's nervousness about services being eroded.

"We have reservations about the journey times expected to be made by the public in Cumbria, particularly those who rely on public transport.

"And we are also seeking reassurance that patient choice will be maintained and promoted in the future."

The committee's report will be passed on to the NHS before the consultation deadline on 9 March.

New health centre plans unveiled
16 Jan 07 |  England

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