A long-standing senior NHS leader has spoken out to challenge government decisions on new primary care trust boundaries.

A long-standing senior NHS leader has spoken out to challenge government decisions on new primary care trust boundaries.

Joint chief executive of Trent and Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire strategic health authorities Alan Burns said some decisions on PCT boundaries showed the government was still partial to applying political pressure, despite its recent rhetoric.

Asked if he thought the government would keep its recent word to support the NHS in making difficult decisions, Mr Burns, who leaves his post after 21 years as an intermediate tier leader, said: 'There are some signs that perhaps that's not as robust as it might be.

'Some of the decisions on PCT reconfigurations, for example - were they entirely rational and consistent with the stated aims of the policy?'

Mr Burns pointed to the decision to retain Bassetlaw PCT on his patch rather than merging it into a single Nottinghamshire PCT as his SHA had proposed. He also cited the decision to go against SHA recommendations in the North East and Essex as examples.

He said the decisions could undermine government ambitions to ensure that PCTs were 'fit for the purpose'.

PCT chief executives will be assessed as part of the organisational diagnosis, according to outgoing South West London SHA chief executive Julie Dent, who has been leading the fitness for purpose programme in London. She told told HSJ that 'individuals' competencies would be assessed'.

Ms Dent said that it was a great mistake to think that just because on had become chief executive 'it doesn't mean you've got all the competencies for all organisations at all times'.

She added: 'Some organisations need to have turnaround and some need maintenance and they're different sets of competencies.'