The new health secretary is not carrying out a review of hospital reconfiguration plans, contrary to a national newspaper report, Nursing Times understands.
The Independent yesterday reported that local proposals - particularly those involving closing accident and emergency units - would be reviewed by Jeremy Hunt. It implied the government would be more likely to block the changes than it has been so far, when service change plans are referred to the health secretary.
The comment will have fuelled concerns among trust managers that Mr Hunt will slow down or stop major service changes, which are being considered in many areas to make savings.
The Department of Health has not commented directly on the report. However, Nursing Times understands the DH’s position is that there is no review and there has been no change in policy.
A well placed source said Mr Hunt had not intended to signal a change in the department’s position, although he is keen to stress that major service changes should be supported by clinicians in the area.
Nursing Times also understands the issue has not been raised with NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson, indicating it is not a major policy shift.
The DH said in a statement: “Changes to local health services are decided and led locally. Local healthcare organisations, doctors, nurses and other health professionals, with their knowledge of the patients they serve, are best placed to decide what services they need for patients in their area.”