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Region set to embrace reform; Medical chiefs in the North East say the region is committed to ensuring a "smooth transition" of future changes to NHS services. Health Reporter HELEN RAE explains.

CRUCIAL TIME Chris Willis, regional director of transition AS the Government takes time out to listen to experts and patients about controversial NHS reforms, the region's health service said it is committed to making sure any future changes happen smoothly.

A 'regional transition programme' - which involves all local NHS organisations, councils, GPs and frontline staff, as well as patient representatives - has been set up so that everyone can work more closely to build a successful future for patients and the public.

A single 'transition' plan is being developed by all of these key stakeholders so that work is co-ordinated across the region to develop: * the quality of treatment and health outcomes; * how health services are commissioned; * local healthcare providers - doctors, dentists, walk-in centres, hospitals; * the North East NHS workforce; * local public health services; * local health and well-being boards.

Chris Willis, regional director of transition, said: "This is a crucial time for the NHS and everyone working across health in the North East is fully committed to making sure we build a successful system for the future.

"Patients are at the very heart of the Government's priorities for the NHS - to deliver the highest possible quality of care with better outcomes and improved public health - and this echoes the shared aspirations and work that is already taking place across the region."

Progress towards the future NHS will be monitored on a month-by-month basis to ensure that any future changes are managed efficiently as the region's NHS continues to deliver existing responsibilities and the highest possible quality of care. He added: "The North East is in a strong position to embrace any changes ahead.

"We are already the only region in England with every NHS hospital and mental health trust awarded foundation trust status and our primary care trusts already operate in management clusters with reduced management costs - this puts us in very good stead compared to other parts of the country.

"As with any organisational change, however, we do appreciate that this is an unsettling time for staff and a key part of our work will also involve the corporate changes for those who are directly affected by the changes and maintaining staff morale will be very important.

"We are of course committed to keeping all key stakeholders fully informed as we progress towards the future NHS system and as further detail about new arrangements becomes available following the Government's listening exercise which is currently taking place."

Extensive engagement work has already taken place across the North East on the Government's proposed changes for the NHS.

As part of the current NHS listening exercise, which closes on May 31, the Government is encouraging all patients, families, carers, staff and stakeholders to get involved and submit their views on the proposed reforms.

* To find out more and have your say visit www.dh.gov.uk/healthandcare * If you have any questions about changes taking place in the region's NHS email askus@northeast.nhs.uk
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 9, 2011
Words:492
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