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Last Updated: Monday, 2 October 2006, 06:15 GMT 07:15 UK
A closer look at Me and My Health
Hywel Griffith
Health Correspondent

Me and My Health logo
The programmes are being shown this month
Have you ever thought you could do a better job of running the NHS in Wales? How would you choose between funding extra bed spaces, employing more nurses or paying for expensive drugs?

BBC Wales has launched Me and My Health - a month of programmes that take a closer look at the NHS in Wales.

There is also a website that allows users to learn more about how the NHS is run, and make their own decisions about how money should be spent.

"Health and our health services are the most important issues in our lives," explains Martyn Ingram from BBC Wales, "but they are also the most complex."

Medical staff (generic)
22 Local Health Boards
14 NHS Trusts
Health Commission Wales

"Through this new initiative we are going to explore all aspects of the issue and hopefully help to inform the debate and the decision making process."

Control of the NHS was devolved to the Welsh Assembly Government in 1999.

It has since changed the landscape of health authorities, creating 22 Local Health Boards (LHBs) responsible for funding local services and 14 NHS trusts, which have the job of treating patients.

More specialised care is organised by Health Commission Wales.

To some it means a structure far too difficult for patients and staff alike to navigate.

"Where NHS Trusts have to provide services commissioned by more than one Local Health Board it does become too complex and bureaucratic," says Tina Donnelly from the Royal College of Nursing Wales.

When you choose to have smaller organisations, as Wales has, you can get the benefit of a strong local focus
Kevin Sullivan, Welsh NHS Confederation

"Its because each LHB might have different requirements and policies and the Trust has to meet everyone's specifications."

But the whole idea of having so many bodies is too make them accountable to patients.

'Perfect size'

Kevin Sullivan from the Welsh NHS Confederation argues: "It's not simply about the number of organisations - a single large organisation can be just as complex and bureaucratic as lots of smaller ones, sometimes more so.

"There is no such thing as the perfect size for a health organisation."

"But when you choose to have smaller organisations, as Wales has, you can get the benefit of a strong local focus."

Chances are, if you're ill, you won't be worrying too much about NHS management structures. What patients care about is getting fast, effective treatment in the easiest way possible.

During October 2006, BBC Wales will be exploring how well the Welsh NHS is performing, and looking at how difficult decisions have to be made every day within the Health Service.

A programme examining the challenges facing the NHS is being recorded this month. Me and My Health - A Debate is being broadcast on 25 October, at 2230, on BBC One Wales.

If you would like to take part in the programme or have any questions for the debate, please email debatewales@bbc.co.uk or ring the BBC Wales Information Line on 08703 500 700.

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