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Warning Over Cornish Health Shake-Up

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5:31pm 2nd April 2013

Cornish health bosses have warned there are hard choices ahead.

GPs are being put in charge of services from hospitals to out-of-hours care.

It means they take on a £760 million budget. But they have got a budget £140 million smaller than the Duchy used to have.

Dr Colin Philip from St Ives is the Chairman of the new Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group.

He said: "I think we have to look fundamentally at different ways of doing things that we do, of providing care much closer to people's homes. That should be more economic, as long as we maintain the quality of it. But I don't think the financial situation is going to get any easier at all.

"Although the government has pledged to maintain health spending, in reality that is a cut. So there's some very difficult decisions out there, how we make the best use of the monies that are available, whilst maintaining safety, whilst maintaining quality. And that's going to be a very difficult conundrum to solve."

The decision to put doctors in charge of commissioning local health services has sparked fears of growing privatisation, as private companies will be able to bid to run services.

St Ives MP Andrew George campaigned against the policy.

He said: "What's really important is that they take this really challenging issue by the horns. Obviously, I fear that it might fragment services as a result, or run the risk of an NHS that puts profit before patients.

Mr George said it could also be a chance for a fresh start: "Changes and improvements to health services in Cornwall which actually protect it from fragmentation. In other words, integrate services, and also make sure that they keep the public sector ethos, protect the NHS from predatory private companies."

5:31pm 2nd April 2013

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