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King's Fund warns over PCT structural changes

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The King’s Fund has warned the NHS that making structural changes to their PCTs will not tackle their fundamental problems.

This week the think tank released its report: Shaping PCT Provider Services: The future for community health, offering practical advice to PCTs on how to reform community heath services.

The report is in response to the news that the Government have told PCTs that they must focus on commissioning by October, streamlining their current conflicting roles as both providers and commissioners.

The report stresses that the NHS must learn from previous reorganisations and not waste the opportunity to modernise community services provided by district nurses, health visitors, physiotherapists and other staff.

Although the report agrees that PCTs need to concentrate on commissioning, it warns that they will also have to solve major problems such as poor productivity, and lack of co-ordination with primary care and the care delivered in hospitals. It also notes that no one model for community services will work everywhere.

Niall Dickson, the King’s Fund chief executive added that community health services have ‘long been neglected’, and that the quality of support patients receive from these services varies widely throughout Britain.

The report also highlighted the need for strong leadership, a reform of service and delivery to meet the needs of patients; and clearly defined roles and responsibilities within community health teams.

Report author Candace Imison, deputy director of policy at The King’s Fund, said: ‘We should not underestimate the scale of what is required and the importance of new ways of working.’

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