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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 June 2006, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
NHS chairwoman quits over reforms
Debbie Abrahams
Debbie Abrahams handed her notice in to Rochdale NHS Trust
The chairwoman of an NHS trust has resigned in protest at government health reforms.

Debbie Abrahams handed her notice in to the Rochdale NHS Trust because of her disquiet over the use of private health companies in the NHS.

She was one of about 200 demonstrators who marched through Manchester in protest over health service jobs cuts.

The government plans to halve the number of PCTs and cut the number of health authorities in the UK.

The plans would cut the number of PCTs from about 300 to between 70 and 130, and reduce the number of strategic health authorities from 28 to nine.

The government hopes the money saved by cutting PCTs can be spent on patient care.

I have been more and more concerned about the use of private providers in the NHS
Debbie Abrahams

But about 800 jobs are expected to go at Pennine Acute Trust to cover its 21m deficit.

The trust runs hospitals in Bury, North Manchester, Rochdale and Oldham.

Ms Abrahams said: "I have tried over the last five years to influence the direction of health policy.

"I have been more and more concerned about the use of private providers in the NHS.

"They do have their place but what we are seeing is increasing the use of private providers which will eventually lead to a point of no return."

Deficit of 512m

She said private health care companies would treat simple cases, leaving the most difficult patients for the NHS.

The Government has increased the role of private health companies in the service, and claims the reforms will improve efficiency and patient care.

But despite a large increase in funding since Labour came to power, critics claim the money has not proportionately increased patient care because the health service is too bureaucratic and wasteful.

Earlier this month, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt announced the NHS's overall deficit was 512m.

Q&A: NHS deficits
06 Jun 06 |  Health


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