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Health job fears.

Byline: Audrey Forbes

Campaigners have spoken of their disappointment as Teesside looks set to have a single supersize health trust.

Health chiefs have agreed to merge the four primary care trusts - Middlesbrough, North Tees, Langbaurgh and Hartlepool - into one Tees-wide trust.

The Teesside PCT would cover a population of more than half a million people and would be one of two giant PCTs across County Durham and the Tees Valley in place of the present ten.

But the move, which comes just four years after the PCTs were formed, has sparked fears of redundancies. Campaigners also fear rural areas will suffer under one area-wide PCT.

Angela Wharton, of Unison, told the Gazette: "Staff are anxious especially after the announcements of redundancies across the NHS.

"I would expect if the merger goes ahead we would be in negotiations with the trust to identify posts for possible redeployment or redundancy."

Ron Wood, chairman of Langbaurgh Patient and Public Involvement Forum, said East Cleveland residents were strongly against the single PCT: "We are worried we will lose the momentum we have achieved with Langbaurgh PCT and I believe rural areas will suffer."

Primary care trusts are responsible for the healthcare of their local population ensuring people have access to services including dentists and doctors.

The recommendation was agreed at a meeting of the County Durham and Tees Valley Strategic Health Authority and will now go to the health secretary Patricia Hewitt for approval. A spokeswoman for the SHA said under the merger job losses would be restricted to board and Professional Executive Committee level.

* The board also agreed to forward the outcome of consultation to the Department of Health on the following two proposals:

To merge County Durham and Tees Valley Strategic Health Authority with Northumberland, Tyne and Wear SHA covering North-east England.

The North East Ambulance Service NHS Trust providing the service on Teesside.
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Title Annotation:News Local
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Apr 26, 2006
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