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Last Updated: Friday, 27 June, 2003, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
Chisholm launches NHS reform
Hospital - generic
Front line staff are to become more involved
Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm has confirmed details of his proposed reforms to the National Health Service in Scotland.

Mr Chisholm has published a bill which outlines his intention to scrap Scotland's 25 health trusts and give more powers to health boards.

Some of the trusts' responsibilities will go to community health partnerships, centred on GP practices.

A new Scottish Health Council will be set up to support health boards in ensuring they fulfill their duty to give the public more say in the running of the NHS.

The bill will remove all references to NHS trusts from the statute book
Malcolm Chisholm
Health minister

Mr Chisholm said he wants to engage the public more in long-term decisions about the future of services in their area and devolve more power to staff in the front line.

Ministers will have powers to intervene in failing hospitals and services, with the possibility that task forces can be sent in.

The health minister said the National Health Service Reform (Scotland) Bill will take forward plans in the executive's previously published white paper.

He said: "This bill will continue and build on the process of NHS reform to help modernise the service and ensure that patients' needs and interests are placed at the heart of everything the service does.

"Our White Paper Partnership for Care, which we published earlier this year, set out the way ahead for devolving power and responsibility to staff at the front line and for involving and engaging the public.

'More efficient'

"The NHS Reform Bill turns these key principles into action."

Turning to the issue of trusts, Mr Chisholm said: "The bill will remove all references to NHS trusts from the statute book.

"This will mark the end of the process of dissolving trusts; a process that has taken us towards a more efficient health service that can respond to local needs."

Opposition parties reacted to the proposals with scepticism.

The Scottish National Party said reform should have taken place years ago and the NHS remains too centralised.

The party's deputy health spokesman Stewart Stevenson said: "We are not impressed by the fact it's taken six years to get here.

"We should have abolished unecessary bureaucracy introduced by the Tories long past."

The Tories said that unless patients get more freedom of choice, the health service will remain in crisis.

BBC Scotland's David Henderson
"The executive has promised radical change"

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23 Jan 03  |  Scotland

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